NBA superstar LeBron James came under fire for his entrance and behavior during the national anthem at the Galen Center, where he was there to watch his son, Bronny, play his first collegiate game after recovering from a cardiac arrest.

A video posted by Orange County Register reporter Luca Evans on social media showed James walking into the arena with his son Bryce and two Sierra Canyon High School teammates while the national anthem was playing. Observers pointed out that James sat down immediately and did not remove his hat during the anthem, actions that some interpreted as showing “zero respect” for the U.S.

Critics quickly condemned James, accusing him of disrespecting the national anthem and the country. However, Evans, the reporter who captured the video, defended James, saying, “As the reporter who took this video, this is gross and completely mischaracterizes the situation. LeBron has done this for YEARS in Bronny’s time at Sierra Canyon. It’s objectively the best time to walk in so he doesn’t cause a massive stir. Stop it.”

James, along with other NBA players, made headlines in 2020 for kneeling during the national anthem and wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of George Floyd. At the time, James expressed his hope that their actions made Colin Kaepernick proud, saying, “Kap was someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable. When people didn’t understand, when people refused to listen to what he was saying. You go back and look at any of his postgame interviews when he was talking about why he was kneeling — it had absolutely nothing to do about the flag, he had absolutely nothing to do about soldiers.”

Since 2020, there have been no accounts of James kneeling during the national anthem.