Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is facing intense backlash over a now-deleted tweet targeting a Columbus police officer involved in the shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant, who was Black.
Bodycam footage released late Tuesday showed Bryant being shot as she was attacking another teen with a knife.
However, like many other public figures, James suggested that the Columbus shooting was unjustified coming on the heels of the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd.
"YOU’RE NEXT #ACCOUNTABILITY," the NBA icon wrote with an hourglass emoji over an image of one of the officers at the scene of Bryant's shooting.
James was accused by critics of leveraging his massive Twitter following to target the officer.
"Lebron James is inciting violence against an Ohio police officer. This is disgraceful and dangerous. Is the NBA okay with this? Is Twitter?" Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. asked.
"On behalf of pro athletes, current and former, I apologize for how #LeBronJames just showed his inner Maxine Waters and made a very real, ongoing threat to the life of the officer who quickly acted to prevent a knife attack from becoming worse. Many of us appreciate what LEOs do!" former Major League Baseball player Lenny Dykstra wrote.
"LeBron James doxes [sic] police officer who saved a teenage girl from being stabbed to death, demands officer be held accountable, sets new record for athlete stupidity," OutKick founder Clay Travis tweeted.
"Reported threatening violence," journalist Emily Miller wrote, flagging the tweet to Twitter.
"That cop did nothing wrong by any reasonable standard, and now someone with 50 million followers is encouraging attacks against him," conservative writer A.G. Hamilton said. "That’s on top [of] countless news organizations lying about his actions. Decent people need to speak out. Real people will get hurt by this stuff."
James returned to Twitter to explain the "ANGER" he felt when sending that tweet.
"ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself!" James tweeted. "Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!"
He added, "I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police. I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY."
James is one of several public figures and media outlets who have downplayed the fact that Bryant was attacking someone when she was shot.