LeBron James does not — we repeat, does not — think Jews “suck” at basketball.
The Shmooze can report this happy piece of news after the NBA star’s latest difficult episode in Cleveland, where his jersey was burned last year following his highly publicized defection from the local Cavaliers to the Miami Heat.
An Akron native, James played basketball last week at his Cleveland’s Mandel Jewish Community Center (of all places!) after a spot opened up on his friends’ basketball team. Initial reports suggested the JCC game went well for the 26-year-old, whose team won by 10 points. “So funny but good run,” James later tweeted.
Days later, however, a JCC employee went public to accuse James of badmouthing his hosts, alleging the player told his friends, “These Jews suck at basketball.” The man claimed to gossip site TMZ that he responded with some colorful anti-James insults on behalf of his hometown.
A rep for James denied the accusations, and one of the player’s JCC teammates backed him up, describing the claim as “nonsense.” TMZ — who we’ll rely on as an arbiter of celebrity basketball-related disputes — seems to side with James, in an article about “alleged mishegas” at the Cleveland JCC.
“For the record,” the website notes, “LeBron has a pretty good relationship with the Jews — besides dabbling the in the Hebrew basketball league … he’s also tight with a pretty famous orthodox rabbi,” a reference to James’ summer business meeting with Rabbi Yishayahu Yosef Pinto.