In a trailer for an upcoming episode of The Shop: Uninterrupted, James was critical of the United States’ response to the Brittney Griner situation in Russia, questioning if it should make her rethink coming back to America. Griner has been in Russian custody since February when the WNBA star was detained at a Moscow airport for bringing vape cartridges with hashish oil, a marijuana concentrate, into the country.
The criminal trial has been considered a sham, with experts believing Russia is using Griner’s celebrity to drive negotiations with the United States. James, like many, has not been satisfied with America’s response.
“Now, how can she feel like America has her back?” James says in the trailer. “I would be feeling like, ‘Do I even want to go back to America?’”
James’ comment quickly went viral and was widely criticized for being anti-American, forcing him to later clarify the quote on Twitter.
My comments on “The Shop” regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country. I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside that cage she’s been in for over 100+ days! Long story short #BringHerHome
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 13, 2022
“My comments on “The Shop” regarding Brittney Griner wasn’t knocking our beautiful country,” James wrote. “I was simply saying how she’s probably feeling emotionally along with so many other emotions, thoughts, etc inside that cage she’s been in for over 100+ days! Long story short #BringHerHome”
This stemmed from a five-second quote that was featured in a 30-second trailer, regarding a topic that required more context and was almost certainly part of a much larger conversation. So is James at fault for making the comment, or should a producer be faulted for sharing what was sure to be a polarizing comment when isolated from any context and handed off to aggregators? The problem, however, is that James’ name is on The Shop as executive producer.
But as James, Peyton Manning, Shaquille O’Neal, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and other great athletes are listed as “executive producers” on various projects, it begs the question as to whether there should be a new title called “honorary producer.” Because how much production work are they actually putting into the project?
No one really believes LeBron James sits there and plays the role of executive producer for every episode of The Shop. It’s more likely that he’s given the title because The Shop operates under his production company and James probably contributes to discussions about who will be on the show and what topics will be covered.
Maybe James follows the ‘all publicity is good publicity’ mantra, but if so, then why did he clarify the quote? While you have to question his marketing team for isolating a controversial quote that James would eventually have to clarify three days before the episode airs, it’s hard not to ignore the fact that he gave himself the title of executive producer. And as executive producer, James didn’t wait for the aggregators to find controversy, he handed it to everyone on a silver platter.