The words of James and
Instead, Team USA chose the path of least resistance and fell silent. They weren't alone. The White House, which thus far has ignored China's contributions to the mass slaughter in a manner that would have impressed
The USOC was even more equivocal. The same organization that championed Cheek for donating his $40,000 USOC bonus to a Sudanese charity, which made him the U.S.'s flag bearer for the closing ceremonies and named him its 2006 Sportsman of the Year, couldn't have put more distance between itself and Cheek if it were piloting a Lear jet.
"Obviously, he's a great Olympic champion," said USOC CEO
If you are counting, that's twice Cheek was referred to as a private citizen. Which is PR-speak for "he's not with us." And from Team USA?
The deafening sound of silence.
That silence hasn't sat well with some people, especially
"When I first saw LeBron's interview [with ESPN], I was pleased and impressed that he had read the information, stepped up and decided [what was happening in Darfur] was wrong," said Newble. "He decided he had a voice that could possibly band the Olympic team together and do something about it. I thought he could help them form some solidarity without disrespecting the games. But recently I saw most of the athletes have retracted from their previous statements. I am disappointed by the latest events."
Newble's frustration extends beyond the players. According to a source close to the team, the players have been asked by U.S. officials not to comment on the situation in Darfur.
"I'm more mad at the bureaucrats that are behind it," said Newble. "They are trying to intimidate players into not saying too much about Darfur during the Olympic games. I believe LeBron's intention was to find a way to show some form of solidarity. There are other forces -- I'm talking about USA basketball -- that are pulling on them more, preventing them from stepping up and saying something."
USA Basketball denies that there has been any attempt to silence its players.
"Our position is, nobody has a muzzle," said USA Basketball Chairman
Colangelo points out that in the weeks leading up to the Olympics the team was addressed by himself, NBA deputy commissioner
While the outright condemning of China is an extreme -- though not unwarranted -- measure, Newble believes there are ways for the U.S. players (unquestionably the most popular athletes at the Games) to show their support for the people of Darfur. He points to the naming of U.S. track star
"If given the opportunity, there is a way [athletes] can come out and speak on behalf of the people in Sudan," said Newble. "China is somewhat responsible for this. They have been blocking the sanctions from the U.N. They are supporting the murder of three or four hundred thousand people. The Olympic team does have a voice. They could speak out about it. I was hoping the guys who spoke out about it before would do it now."