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NBA star LeBron James and one of his childhood friends launched a media company earlier this year “designed to move the culture.”
James and his business partner, Maverick Carter, launched SpringHill Co. on March 11, the same day that the NBA suspended its season because of the pandemic. The company launches with an initial $100 million in funding, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.
James will continue his career in professional basketball and work on company projects such as staring in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a movie set for release next year. The basketball star will also use his image to promote and guide the company, while Carter will be directly involved with the company’s operations.
“This is ultimately a company that’s about point of view, the community you serve, and empowerment,” said Los Angeles investment banker Paul Wachter, who aided James and Carter. “This is a company designed to move the culture.”
The company’s primary focus will be telling stories from the perspective of people of color in America.
“When we talk about storytelling, we want to be able to hit home, to hit a lot of homes where they feel like they can be a part of that story. And they feel like, Oh, you know what? I can relate to that. It’s very organic to our upbringing,” James said
James is outspoken on political issues, especially those related to the NBA and the black community in the United States. He is a supporter of Colin Kaepernick, a black former NFL quarterback who set off a wave of protests by kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner before football games in 2016 and early 2017.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. He has not played for an NFL team since Jan. 1, 2017, after leading the San Francisco 49ers to a 2-14 season.
James has said the NFL should apologize to Kaepernick, “a man who basically sacrificed everything for the better of this world.” James has also alleged that black people are systemically discriminated against through law enforcement and voter suppression.
His outspoken stance on civil rights in the United States has earned him criticism as a hypocrite on matters relating to China. Last year, protests in Hong Kong against the creeping influence of China’s totalitarian government sparked a wave of support for the protesters in the U.S.
Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey prompted backlash against the NBA from Chinese authorities when he tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters. James said Morey’s tweet was misinformed and an example of what “can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself.”
James told Bloomberg that the incident with Morey taught him to “keep an open mind.”