Before the tip off of Game Three of the NBA Finals between Golden State and Cleveland, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James bowed to former Cleveland Browns running back and American icon Jim Brown, who sat courtside.
It was a powerful moment. Cleveland’s current sports hero vying for a championship paid homage to the Cleveland sports hero on the team that last gave the city a major team championship. Brown feels it sent an important message to a country where respect seems in decline.
“To be a 79-year-old man, almost 80, and have a young man recognize you, it’s almost unparalleled from the standpoint for human beings at this particular time,” Brown told me and co-host Vic Carucci Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “It was one of the greatest moments I have had and I truly appreciate that young man for making this gesture. It’s during a time where a lot of young players don’t use the word respect too often.
“To have a young man take the time out, because it took some thought to pay that respect, it shows the world people are good. At my age, sensitivity is very high and my goals are very clear—man’s humanity to man is at the forefront of my mind all the time—that’s what I’m working on and trying to do.”
Brown’s foundation—Amer-I-Can—works on inner-city issues. He’s troubled with what he’s seeing right now in many cities.
“We in this country now have a problem—that is what I’m working on. Ray Lewis [former Baltimore Ravens linebacker], my wonderful friend, is another young man that is stepping up. The situation in the inner cities, the black-on-black violence is outrageous, is out of control. The law enforcement situation is difficult to get involved in because it’s so complicated.”
Brown currently works with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka on initiatives involving professional athletes to help inner cities. Brown told us, “Mayor Baraka is going to make an announcement soon and we are going to working on the violence and the schools—getting quality education back in the schools and bring the violence down in the cities across the country and utilizing the athletes and their money and their influence.”
And Brown hopes the respect James showed him opens some eyes and serves as a powerful lesson.
“It’s a great example of how things should be,” Brown said. “It isn’t all about the money and the fame. Sometimes it’s just about the human being respecting other human beings.”