Barack Obama Told LeBron James NBA Players ‘Are Setting The Tone’ For Modern Athlete Activism

Ahead of his appearance on HBO’s The Shop this weekend alongside LeBron James, a clip has been released of former president Barack Obama discussing how he believes the NBA’s activism inside and out of the Bubble this year fits into the lineage of Black athletes in America speaking out, and how the NBA is now leading the way in this arena.

“For a while there was a suspension of activism, because I think for a time, the African-American athlete started thinking in terms of contracts, money, shoe deals, et cetera,” Obama says to James in the clip. “To see this new generation without fear and speaking their mind and their conscience, I think you guys are setting the tone for a lot of young people coming up and a lot of athletes in other leagues.”

Obama goes on to reference the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to strike games in late August following the police shooting of Jacob Blake as an example. Reports since that period have suggested Obama himself was a big force in educating the players in the NBA on how to make the most of the spotlight they had at the time, while former first lady Michelle Obama played a big role as an advocate and partner for the players of the WNBA this summer as well.

Long known to be a basketball fan and an admirer of athletes, Obama has maintained a connection to the NBA since leaving office and clearly sees The Shop as a strong vehicle to speak directly to potential voters, as the episode will air just days before the Nov. 3 election.