LeBron James again shows us his greatness, this time as a father Sports fanaticism shouldn’t blind us to the essence of family, love and fun

There’s a school of thought — well, foolish thought — that black fathers don’t spend enough time with their children, nor do they even care to be involved in the lives of their kids. That way of thinking is, of course, patently false.

In the aftermath of LeBron James playfully throwing down a dunk in his son’s layup line, there’s a similarly silly commentary:

James — a black father — is TOO involved in his kids’ lives.

It’s the kind of senseless debate that happens in the dog days of summer, when folks are clamoring for anything to break up the monotony of daily baseball coverage.

It’s also the kind of debate that happens when people are unable to differentiate between incessant media coverage and father-son time. Ironically enough, it’s the polarizing backlash to stories such as these that will only fuel more of these stories in the future.

I watched James’ son, Bronny, compete at the Nike NYBL Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina, earlier this month. The gym was packed, as expected, and, as the days progressed, became increasingly star-studded.

As impressed as I was with Bronny’s court vision — some things are hereditary, not taught — I was more impressed by the family atmosphere surrounding the team.

There’s the moment where Bronny’s kid brother, Bryce, joins the team in a pregame huddle. Later, there’s a moment where James’ wife, Savannah, and his daughter, Zhuri, practically look like twins as they enjoy the game. Toward the end of the game, Zhuri switches viewpoints — from mom’s lap to atop the shoulders of her grandmother, Gloria.

Zhuri James watches the game at the Nike Peach Jam in North Augusta, S.C., atop the shoulders of her grandmother, Gloria.

Ken Makin

When you think about the initial two players of this great American story — LeBron and Gloria — and all of the expectations placed specifically on James, it’s remarkable what this family has been able to build.

Beyond that, it’s amazing that James has stayed true to who he is — basically, a big kid. That’s not a slight — it’s the ultimate compliment.

With all of the talk about his business savvy and potential status as the greatest of all time on the basketball floor, James is still in touch with his silly side. That’s what makes his recent “Taco Tuesday” posts so genuine, if not refreshingly quirky.

That’s the attitude that led to James punching a few dunks in the layup line.

If anything, James’ pregame dunks actually take pressure off of Bronny and his teammates. James has a unique perspective on unfair expectations, and if a few pregame dunks put the onus on him and not whether Bronny can live up to the James name, that’s proverbial dirt easily brushed off of his shoulders.

And then, there’s the weight of that name — LeBron James — which James admitted last summer he regretted passing down to Bronny:

“I still regret giving [Bronny] my name because of [basketball expectations],” James said during an episode of The Shop.

“When I was younger, I didn’t have a dad. So my whole thing was like, whenever I have a kid, not only is he going to be a junior, I’m gonna do everything that this man didn’t do.”

Sometimes, we get so caught up in our views of the media and sports fanaticism that we lose the essence of humanity — family, love, fellowship. From November to June, James is a basketball player. He’s spending his offseason not only being a dad, but a father figure. He’s imparting ideals on a group of young men that will impact them whether they play basketball professionally or not. It’s a team-based, loyalty-infused culture that has defined James’ existence — basketball and otherwise.

If you can’t respect that, to quote Jay-Z, your whole perspective is wack.

Daily Dose: 7/24/17 ‘Girls Trip’ excels at box office over the weekend

We’re still in the dog days of summer, and it feels like it’s never going to end. But HBO’s Insecure is back, which means the Twitter timeline is going crazy. The Morning Roast was also an NFL takeover, although we did talk a lot of hoops too.

One of my heroes died Saturday. After a short battle with cancer, the man who exuded cool and was the pride and joy of black Washington, Jim Vance, passed at the age of 75. He was a reporter and news anchor at NBC4 in D.C. for nearly 50 years, which is much longer than I’ve been on this earth. Even though we suspected it would be soon, this news hit many people, not just in the news industry but also around the community in general, extremely hard. Vance was our rock, our soothing voice, our stalwart. When I heard the news, I poured my heart out.

You could call it palace intrigue, but alas, there is no king. The week in politics has started off with a bang, and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is saying publicly that he did not collude with Russia in any way. Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who many people think is likely on his way out of that job, actually was called “beleaguered” by the president, which is about as weird as it gets. He picked Sessions, mind you. Let’s not forget that Trump’s lawyer is also insinuating that the president might actually pardon himself in this situation. Yikes.

It’s amazing what happens when you make a movie with black women, apparently. Turns out, tons of people go to see it. This is still news in Hollywood, but Girls Trip did an incredible job at the box office this weekend for its opener, to the tune of $30M, which is no small matter. It came in second in the country, and I can’t imagine it will slow down too much, considering how topical it is as a summer film. It’s also worth noting that the film’s director, Malcolm D. Lee, just signed a first-look deal with Universal, so make sure to watch his space.

The Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight has reached peak ridiculous. Draymond Green, as in of the Golden State Warriors, decided he was going to take a shot at McGregor via Instagram, which tells me that Dray has a little too much time on his hands this summer. But because McGregor is never one to back down from a fight, no matter how petty, he jumped into the comments and fired back at Green, saying that he was rocking a C.J. Watson jersey in fact, which is basically the weakest comeback ever. This bout can’t be over soon enough.

Free Food

Coffee Break: The things that happen in American prisons, as a matter of course, are typically pretty unspeakable. Between prisoner abuse, overcrowding and our general predilection toward locking people up forever, it’s bad. Now, a jail in Tennessee is offering vasectomies for reduced prison time. This is not OK.

Snack Time: I love a good carbonara. Simple, elegant and delicious without being overpowered with flavors that are doing too much. But this recipe? Well, it caused some controversy.

Dessert: I don’t want nor need to know what Fat Joe is going for here, but it will always be hilarious to me.

https://twitter.com/TatyanaJenene/status/888542823582138368/video/1

Daily Dose: 7/18/17 Michael Vick has some advice for Colin Kaepernick

I’m finally back home for more than a day, and I’m very happy about that. On Monday I was on The Ryen Russillo Show, and it was an excellent experience. If you want to hear the show, here you go. Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3.

Well, it looks like the latest health care plan has fallen apart, again. The goal of trying to keep America healthy has turned into a political battle that’s genuinely embarrassing on a global level. The GOP’s effort to repeal Obamacare fell short, again, because they didn’t have the votes. This fact apparently caught the White House off guard, which is bizarre, as everyone paying attention knew this wasn’t going to work. Now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling for a repeal of the whole thing, with absolutely zero plan to replace it. What a mess.

Michael Vick, we didn’t think it’d be you. The former NFL quarterback, who knows a thing or two about image rehabilitation, went on television and gave some advice to Colin Kaepernick on how he might be able to get back in the league’s good graces. He told him to cut his hair. Without getting into a whole rant about how black hair is unfairly weaponized in America, I’ll just say this: Kaepernick’s hair is too important to cut at this point. Should it matter? No. But yes, alas, it does. Damien Woody was not a fan of Vick’s suggestion.

Summer is weird. While the weather is warm, and there’s a sense of elongated laziness and carefree mentality that people enjoy, there can also be a huge downside: depression. Why? Mainly because if you don’t have your life together and are forced to watch everybody else having fun in their seasonal happiness, it can wear on you. But there’s also a physical reason. As it turns out, too much light can negatively affect your body, never mind the actual temperature of the air. The dog days are for real.

Ezekiel Elliott is living his life. The star Dallas Cowboys running back seems to be in the headlines for one thing or another all the time, and it might end up costing him some cash. During the week he was supposed to meet with the NFL about how his offseason has gone, but he ended up getting into an altercation at a nightclub, which just isn’t a good look. Now he’s trying to appeal a speeding ticket. At this point it’s pretty clear the NFL is going to sit him down, even if it’s just for his own good.

Free Food

Coffee Break: I know you all love Game of Thrones. I don’t watch that show, but it’s not personal, it’s just not for me. I’m a robots-and-lasers guy, not a wizards-and-woods guy, but with the season premiere having just dropped, people are back at it. One question though: Where are all the black folks in this HBO series?

Snack Time: The Magic School Bus was a series of books that as a kid I didn’t admit that I liked, but I genuinely loved. Now it appears that Tracee Ellis Ross will play Mrs. Frizzle in a live-action version adaptation. Amazing.

Dessert: Some things you just can’t make up, kiddos.