by Dax-Devlon Ross
Dear Lebron “Global Icon” James:Four years ago, while you were still in high school and hadn’t formally announced your entrance into the 2003 NBA Draft, Ralph Nader wrote you a letter that ultimately found its way into my inbox. In it, Mr. Nader urged you to consider using your impending status as Nike’s (or Adidas’) next one-man marketing machine to do something your esteemed predecessor, MJ, never did: advocate for sweat-shop reform. Granted, Mr. Nader came off a little high-handed, condescending—self-righteous if you will. (For instance, he never once requested your input in creating a list of reform demands that you, ultimately, would’ve been responsible for in his letter.) In fact, part of me even wondered then, as now, if he wasn’t scapegoating you as a means of mending his maimed status. In light of the 2000 presidential debacle, and the then imminent Iraq War, I don’t think I’m too far afield when I say Nader wasn’t the most popular political figure at the time. In other words, there’s ample circumstantial evidence on the record to suggest his letter wasn’t entirely altruistic, so I don’t blame you for ignoring it outright and signing a $90 million dollar deal with Jordan’s former employer. (I just thought of something. You should think about switching your nickname to “G.I.”James. Has a ring to it, doesn’t it? That way the next time you and Allen Iverson decide to throw an All-Star shindig together, you can call it a “G.I./A.I. Collaboration.”) Anyway, as I was saying, Mr. Nader’s approach might’ve been a little off-putting, not to mention indifferent towards the issue of extortionate sneaker prices (big ups Starbury!), but he meant well, and I sincerely believe he had the interests of exploited sweat-shop laborers in mind. Even you have to admit, he raised some important points, which, in light of your recent remarks on ESPN – “I’m trying to be a global icon…on the level of Muhammad Ali” – need to be re-considered and brought up to date. In a nutshell, that’s why I decided to write you this letter.
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