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March 26, 2008 2:59 PM

Trash Talk

Posted by Jayda Evans

Jayda Evans: I can't believe all of the controversy over April's Vogue issue with LeBron James on the cover. Most seem offended, including Los Angeles Sparks owner Kathy Goodman, who called it "animalistic." FYI, the team's co-owner Carla Christofferson is featured inside. ESPN made a big stink about it, but as a longtime subscriber of the magazine, I just don't see the problem. What was your take?

Percy Allen: I got an early peak at the Vogue cover and in all honesty, I didn't give it a second look. My first thought was, 'Ok here's a basketball player in athletic gear with a basketball in one hand and a supermodel in the other.' No big deal, right? Wrong. This cover is wrong for so many reasons. For starters, it's simple and unoriginal. It's offensive because it perpetuates the age-old negative image of an angry dark-skinned black man manhandling a beautiful fair-skinned woman, reminiscent of the early King Kong movie, isn't it? And why is he yelling?

Evans: It's a fashion magazine! Why can't he yell at the camera in excitement? And you're going to tell me LeBron doesn't yell on the court? Please. I'd agree with you if more black athletes featured outside of sports magazines were always topless or looking live savages, but this is not one of those instances. LeBron has been on at least four covers this season, twice in suits and twice in athletic gear. He was on the cover of Fortune magazine smiling in a suit so why can't he have a little fun with supermodel Gisele Bundchen on the cover of Vogue? He's marketing his own athletic line and accentuating the point of this particular issue -- shape. I also read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he doesn't have a problem with the shot. We shouldn't, either.

Allen: This is bigger than LeBron James. It really is. This is about Charles Barkley who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated bare chest and shackled in chains. This is Ricky Williams who appeared on the cover of ESPN The Magazine in a wedding dress. You would think that somebody as image conscious as James would know better than to do something like this. Or at least somebody in his crew should have had the guts to tell him how controversial this cover would be. And you mean to tell me this shot was the best that famed photog Annie Liebovitz could come up with it? She's better than that.

Evans: Comparing this shot to the ones of Barkley and Williams is comical. It wasn't Liebovitz best work, in my opinion, but she does themed photography, which is what this is.(Also note that Seattle's own Apollo Ohno is featured by Liebovitz inside). It wasn't as sensationalized as you're trying to suggest by bringing up Barkley and Williams. Those were done in a different time for America. We really need to move on and allow a person like LeBron, who does care about his image, to have a little fun with it, too. Michael Beasley is screaming at the camera on the cover of Slam, do you have a problem with that, too? By clouding the issue we're missing the point -- a black basketball player was featured on multiple covers outside of the traditional sports magazines freely projecting his multifaceted personality. It's progress, not regression.

Allen: I'm all for progress, but when we don't remember our history, tragically we repeat it. Maybe James and some folks are too young to realize what kind of an impact a photo like that would produce. Like I said earlier, I didn't give it a second glance the first time I saw it, but that doesn't make it less controversial. And more than likely that was the intent all along.

Evans: True, it's extremely important to know our history and learn from it. In a sense, I'm glad this cover brought up this debate with people. It's makes you think, which is always a good thing. Until next time -- Peace.

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