Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James apologized Sunday for sharing lyrics on Instagram that included the line "getting that Jewish money," ESPN reported.
James offered "apologies for sure, if I offended anyone" and explained to ESPN, "that's not why I chose to share that lyrics... I actually thought it was a compliment."
Quoting rapper 21 Savage's "asmr," James wrote, "We been getting that Jewish money, Everything is Kosher" on a picture of himself in a Lakers sweatshirt on his Instagram Stories. He has a whopping 45,800,000 followers, making him the 38th most popular person on Instagram.
"That's what I do. I ride in my car, I listen to great music, and that was the byproduct of it. So I actually thought it was a compliment, and obviously it wasn't through the lens of a lot of people. My apologies. It definitely was not the intent, obviously, to hurt anybody," James told ESPN Sunday.
But his post had already done the damage, with critics taking to Twitter to criticize the basketball superstar. "Does quoting lyrics from a song absolve the person quoting from the responsibility behind the words? I’d argue no, especially with a following of 45 million," sports business journalist Darren Rovell tweeted.
- Alice Walker Endorses anti-Semitism. Marc Lamont Hill Doesn't. Was That So Hard?
- Why Is This Israeli Jewish Scholar a Willing Poster Boy for Poland's Brutal Distortion of the Holocaust?
- Alice Walker Defends Endorsement of anti-Semitic Book: Critics Trying to Silence Palestinian Advocacy
In response, sports journalist Yaron Weitzman wrote: "I get it's a music lyric but the 'Jewish money' stereotype is as old and dangerous an antisemitic trope that exists. LeBron needs to be better."
James also made the rounds on Twitter for calling NFL owners "old white men" with a "slave mentality" on his HBO sports series "The Shop."
"Strong weekend for LeBron: call white NFL owners slave masters & now going after Jewish people too. Good thing black people can’t be racist," sports commentator Clay Travis tweeted.
James is no stranger to controversy. His bitter fued with U.S. President Donald Trump made headlines in August when the disagreement went so far as to split the president's family. After Trump insulted James' intelligence in a tweet, First Lady Melania Trump came to the basketball player's defense, with her spokeswoman saying that James is "working to do good things on behalf of our next generation" and that Mrs. Trump would be open to visiting his "I Promise" school.
Iran's former hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad weighed in too, tweeting: "In my opinion everyone especially a President should love all, and not differentiate between them." He added that he loved NBA greats James and Michael Jordan, as well as former Denver Nuggets player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.