It was a relatively modest gesture but Joel Berry wanted to show his support for LeBron James.
So the North Carolina guard posted his own picture of “I Am More Than An Athlete” on Instagram on Saturday before the Tar Heels’ win at Louisville.
“Not everybody gets to see what we do off the court,” Berry said. “That’s one of my missions is to try to get people to understand, that we have an impact on people — from little kids to all the way to grownups.”
James and fellow NBA superstar Kevin Durant came under fire last week after comments they made on race relations in an ESPN interview ahead of the NBA All-Star Game that were critical of President Donald Trump.
Fox News political commentator Laura Ingraham told James to “shut up and dribble.”
On Friday, James posted a picture of a neon sign with the words “I Am More Than An Athlete” on his Instagram account. James used the hashtag “#wewillnotshutupanddribble.”
Berry saw that and posted his own version the next day. Berry’s Instagram post had more than 16,600 likes on Monday morning.
“I was little upset by that,” Berry said. “LeBron, the things that he does, people really don’t understand it and they don’t see it.”
“He has a school. He is always giving back to the community. That’s what it is about.
For her to say something like that, was disrespectful to who he is as a person.”
James’ charitable foundation opened up the “I Promise School” in his hometown of Akron, Ohio for third- and fourth-graders in the fall. James’ same “I Promise” initiative also has scholarship program with the University of Akron, which James’ foundation has pledged more than $40 million for college education.
Berry said James should be praised for being a positive role model, not criticized for having an opinion.
“It’s about having an impact on people’s lives and that’s what I want to do,” Berry said.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio