Did LeBron James tell the NBA in a letter from his lawyer that he will quit playing if the National Anthem continues to be played? No, that's not true. The story was published by a liberal satire website that tries to mislead Trump supporters and Republicans into sharing made up stories that are clearly marked as satire when you actually click them. Articles from the site are frequently copied by foreign-run fake news websites. The people liking and sharing these stories are enriching foreign website operators or a liberal from Maine via the ad revenue generated with the content which is probably not what they expected or wanted.
The story originated from an article published by BustaTroll on October 24, 2019 titled "LeBron To NBA:'Dump The Anthem Or I'll Quit'" (archived here) which opened:
his past Tuesday, the NBA's LeBron James created quite a scene and angered millions when he angrily walked off the court during the playing of our national anthem. This was his 'protest' it seems, the next stage of disrespect that began with kneeling in the NFL.
Now James is stepping it up even more. Yesterday, Joseph Barron, Esq., a lawyer for James hand-delivered a letter to the offices of the NBA advising them of his client's intention to end his basketball career if the anthem were to be played in his presence ever again.
Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:
LeBron To NBA:'Dump The Anthem Or I'll Quit'
This past Tuesday, the NBA's LeBron James created quite a scene and angered millions when he angrily walked off the court during the playing of our national anthem. This was his 'protes...
The original article is covered in satire warnings and disclaimers and it was posted in a category named "Satire and/or Conservative Fan Fiction". The supposed letter LeBron's lawyer sent to the NBA was signed "LeBron Earnest James" while LeBron James full name is actually "LeBron Raymone James Sr." (and the name of the lawyer, "Joseph Barron", is often used for character names in the stories on the site, just like the name "Joe Barron").
LeBron did come under some anthem-related criticism recently:
LeBron James accused of 'disrespecting' national anthem by pumping up the crowd
NBA superstar LeBron James is facing fierce backlash for what critics are insisting was "disrespecting" the "Star-Spangled Banner" on Tuesday amid the fallout of his China comments. In a clip shared by NBA on ESPN, James was seen pumping up the crowd toward the tail end of the National Anthem ahead of the Lakers game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
But the story of the lawyer and the letter to the NBA was completely made up by the writer at BustaTroll.org.
The site is part of the "America's Last Line of Defense" network of satire websites run byself-professed liberal troll Christopher Blair from Maine along with a loose confederation of friends and allies. Blair has been in a feud with fact checking website Snopes for some time now and has also criticized other fact checkers in the past who labeled his work "fake news" instead of satire. In reaction to this he has recently rebranded all his active websites and Facebook pages so they carry extremely visible disclaimers everywhere.
Every site in the network has an about page that reads (in part):
Before you complain and decide satire is synonymous with "comedy":
The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
Everything on this website is fiction. It is not a lie and it is not fake news because it is not real. If you believe that it is real, you should have your head examined. Any similarities between this site's pure fantasy and actual people, places, and events are purely coincidental and all images should be considered altered and satirical. See above if you're still having an issue with that satire thing.
Articles from Blair's sites frequently get copied by "real" fake news sites who often omit the satire disclaimer and any other hints the stories are fake. Blair has tried to get these sites shut down in the past but new ones keep cropping up.
Here is a video of Blair explaining how his process works:
If you are interested in learning more about Blair and the history of his sites, here is something to get you started:
The Ultimate Christopher Blair and America's Last Line of Defense Reading List | Lead Stories
STORY UPDATED: check for updates below. Yesterday Eli Saslow at the Washington Post wrote a fantastic article about Christopher Blair, a man from Maine who has been trolling conservatives and Trump supporters online for years and occasionally even made a living out of it.
If you see one of his stories on a site that does not contain a satire disclaimer, assume it is fake news. If you do see the satire disclaimer it is of course also fake news.
NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes bustatroll.org as:
A site that publishes false stories and hoaxes that are often mistaken for real news, part of a network named America's Last Line of Defense run by hoax perpetrator Christopher Blair.
According to NewsGuard the site does not maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability. Read their full assessment here.
We wrote about bustatroll.org before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:
- Fake News: Malia Obama Did NOT Have 24 Classmates Expelled For Praying On Campus
- Fake News: UN Did NOT Award Obama "Leader of the Century Award"
- Fake News: Pelosi Did NOT "Say Americans Are The Stupidest People On Earth"
- Fake News: Pope Francis Did NOT Say God Will Abandon America If Trump Is Re-elected
- Fake News: It's NOT Official, Michelle Obama NOT Running For President