On Friday afternoon I called the Los Angeles police department to request any and all information about their investigation of the alleged racist graffiti incident on a gate outside LeBron James’s LA area home. The LAPD said they had nothing to share, including the police report itself. The only evidence I was told the police department had logged was a photo of the graffiti on the gate provided by the individual(s) at LeBron James’s Los Angeles residence.
I was also told there had been no surveillance video entered into evidence in this case.
So after five days of histrionic media coverage, most of which lionized LeBron James for his response to racism, we still have zero public evidence that any crime actually happened and the Los Angeles police department only has one photo provided by someone at LeBron’s residence.
Despite the lack of evidence of whether a crime happened or not and zero evidence of who might have perpetrated this crime if it did happen, the NAACP has demanded that Donald Trump apologize to LeBron James.
“We are deeply troubled and disturbed by the heinous acts of racism that occurred on Wednesday,” the NAACP said. “Leaving a noose — a symbol and weapon of hate — in front of the (museum) and vandalizing the home of NBA superstar LeBron James underscore the recent increase in hate crimes committed against African Americans under the Trump administration. The NAACP will not sit idly while our people continue to be assailed by racist and cowardly actions. Furthermore, we call on the Trump Administration to stand up and speak out against these attacks.”
Really, that happened.
The NAACP wants the president to apologize despite the fact that we don’t know if a crime happened or who did it.
So let’s dial back the rhetoric and reiterate what we know:
- At 6:44 am on Wednesday morning, the day before the NBA Finals began, someone called police to report an incident of racist graffiti at LeBron James’s house.
- When police arrived the alleged racist graffiti had already been painted over and police were, according to the LAPD, provided a photo of what the graffiti on the gate had looked like.
- There is no surveillance video of the alleged crime and the picture has not been publicly released.
That’s it, that’s the sum total upon which millions of spoken and written words have ensued.
Just about every single person in media — and the NAACP — has assumed that a racist white person wrote a racial slur on LeBron James’s mansion and every response since then, LeBron’s awkward press conference, which was praised even though it was nonsensical, just about every media member’s anti-racism take — so brave! — has been predicated on this assumption.
But what is actually public at this point? Virtually nothing. We don’t know what happened, or even if it happened at all, and we don’t know who did it. Yet somehow, despite the millions of words expended on this story, I’m the only person in sports media asking questions about this case. Why is that? I honestly think it’s because most people in media are so afraid of being called racist that they won’t question anything involving race or a black athlete.
But this story, at least not the public facts themselves, just doesn’t make sense.
Let’s consider additional reported facts:
1. The racial slur was painted over before police arrived.
This is the gate outside LeBron’s house according to KTLA.
Why did someone paint over the slur on the gate? If you were reporting a crime, wouldn’t you leave the crime scene untouched? Isn’t that the most basic of crime scene knowledge? Isn’t the type of spray paint important here when it comes to catching the perpetrator(s)? If you were worried about what the neighbors would think, couldn’t you either cover the slur up with a bedsheet or, even simpler, open the gate since the gate slides open so as to be entirely invisible from the street?
Furthermore, they already had the paint to repaint the gate at the house? And there was someone there to repaint it that early in the morning with the exact right color of paint and with that little amount of time passing between the call to police and the police arriving? Have you driven in LA traffic before? Unless LeBron employs a full-time painter who lives at the home that seems just about impossible. And all of that happened before the police got to the house a short time after the call? Doesn’t that seem incredibly unlikely?
And here’s another question, look how visible this gate is from the street and sidewalk, there wasn’t a single person out in Brentwood driving past, jogging, or walking their dogs early in the morning before police were called or this gate was repainted? Remember, police weren’t called until 6:44 am. That’s over an hour of daylight that would have passed before police were called. (Presumably the vandalism would have happened overnight since if it happened during the daylight it’s even more implausible that someone wouldn’t have taken photos). Toss in an additional half hour pre-sunrise where it’s bright enough to see the gate clearly from the street and we’re talking about 1.5 hours when this racist graffiti would have been exposed to the entire neighborhood. Yet no one in the entire neighborhood took a photo or video during this 1.5 hours?
If you lived in Brentwood and went driving or jogging past LeBron’s house — everyone in that neighborhood would have known it was LeBron’s house — and there was a racial slur on the gate are you really telling me nobody would have put that on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or at least sent the photo to TMZ?
Instead the LAPD spokesperson said that the police had been provided a photo of the graffiti. You read that right, the only evidence in this entire case is a photo that the police didn’t even take themselves and that no one else has ever seen in the public. If that’s all the evidence there is, could you even prosecute someone here and get a conviction? I don’t think so.
Remember, LeBron’s people called police and then leaked this story so we would know it happened. If LeBron didn’t want the distraction or the media attention he could have just painted over it and never given attention to the story. LeBron’s crew wanted it to be public, but they didn’t want to preserve the evidence? That doesn’t make any sense at all.
2. There is no surveillance video according to the LAPD spokesperson I conversed with on Friday afternoon.
This should have been the easiest crime to solve ever. Just go to the security cameras, review the footage and, bang, you’ve got your suspect vandalizing the gate redhanded. If the police can’t identify him then they can release the footage and ask others to help identify the suspect for them.
Yet the police can’t do that because there is no video footage.
How many $21 million mansions of huge celebrities don’t have security cameras at the main gate of the house? We know just by looking at this photo that the gate has an entry box to require the input of a code. Usually those gates are also accompanied by call boxes and video recorders.
LeBron James regularly employs security guards to protect him and his family. But he has no surveillance cameras on his home? Hell, most of you reading this right now have security cameras in or on your homes and you make a fraction of what LeBron does.
So is there no surveillance camera present? Or, even more strangely, was the surveillance camera not working on that night when the alleged spray painted slur happened?
This means all we are left with is a single photo that was taken by someone at LeBron’s house and provided to the police. But no actual tangible evidence on the part of the police themselves. (Assuming the spokesperson was accurate).
And yet Outkick is the only media outlet you’ve seen reporting any of this.
Why is that?
I think it’s because the media is falling victim here to the most dangerous story that anyone can fall victim to — believing a story is true because it confirms an existing worldview. The sports media is by and large incredibly left leaning. As a result the sports media is preconditioned to believe any story relating to racism is true. That’s despite the fact that there are literally hundreds of fake hate crimes that have been proven to be lies.
The most basic job of anyone in media is to determine what the facts are. Here we still don’t know any of the facts. Worst of all, LeBron James wasn’t even present in the house so we still haven’t heard a single word from anyone present in Los Angeles. Who discovered the racist graffiti? When? Why was it immediately repainted before police arrived? Who took the photo? Is there a surveillance system? If so, why wasn’t it working properly that night? All of these are the most basic possible questions and we know none of the answers.
If you are going to write an opinion piece about the significance of the graffiti or how brave LeBron’s response to it was, shouldn’t you at first determine what the actual facts of the case are? Yet no one has bothered to do this. Every bit of coverage surrounding this incident represents a colossal failure of the sports media.
Sure, it’s certainly possible that a racist white person decided to lash out at LeBron James and write a racial slur on the gate of his multi-million dollar Los Angeles home. If so, then all the media reactions are justified. But what if this was an angry black person trying to draw attention to racism the day before the NBA Finals started because he or she knew that a white person would be blamed and this would go viral? Or, even more strangely, what if there was never any racist graffiti at all and this was a hoax perpetuated by one of LeBron James’s employees to draw attention to himself and he never thought the police would be called? Isn’t that certainly plausible too? Why would someone make up a fake racial incident? I wouldn’t pretend to know, but it has happened hundreds of times in this country, just look at this link. And most of the time those stories started exactly like these, with praise being heaped upon an alleged victim and zero actual media inquiry to establish basic facts.
Five days after this incident occurred the only thing we know for sure is this — LeBron received universal praise for being the victim of a racist hate crime. What we don’t know for sure is this, was there ever any actual racist hate crime at all?
The fact that Outkick is the only source in the entire media asking these basic questions, should make all of you a little bit nervous.
Because if the media doesn’t exist to ask the most basic questions of people in positions of power, why is it here at all?