Cavaliers star LeBron James has the “utmost respect” of Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown for the way he handled an act of racism on the eve of the NBA Finals, Brown said.

Brown, known for his support of African-American causes and racial equality, called James “a great human being and great American” after James eloquently addressed a racist slur that had been sprayed on the front gate of his Los Angeles home.

“To watch him express himself the way he did today only reinforces that he’s a class individual, and he has my utmost respect,” Brown said.

Neither James nor his family was at his L.A. house when the N-word was sprayed on the gate.

James said during Wednesday’s NBA Finals media day that it pained him to not be home with his sons to discuss what happened.

“No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much people admire you, being black in America is tough,” James said.

James added that if this incident helped move the conversation on race in a positive direction, it might be worth it.

“End of the day, if this incident [that] happened to my family can keep the conversation going, to keep progressing, not regressing, I’m not against it happening to us again,” James said.

Brown and James had a memorable exchange at a Finals game two years ago when Brown sat courtside at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. James saw Brown as he headed out for the opening tip. When he did, he stopped and bowed to Brown.

The gesture touched Brown, who pointed back. Brown seemed every bit as touched Wednesday while listening to James speak the day before he and the Cavs play the Golden State Warriors in the Finals for the third year in a row.

“LeBron James is a great human being and great American,” Brown said. “What he has done for his sport and the teamwork he shows is unparalleled. His community work is tremendously effective and impactful.

“He’s a tremendous example of how a man should carry himself on and off the court.”

Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer Isaiah Thomas also expressed his appreciation for James’ handling of the sensitive matter.

“What LeBron James just did today for this generation and generations to come … on this day, what he just stood for and what he just did socially with that press conference, he’s the greatest player to ever play the game,” Thomas said on NBA TV.


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