A photo of Kaepernick’s cover eventually made its way onto LeBron James’ Instagram account. The best basketball player in the world was a fan of the magazine’s decision, and when he was asked about Kaepernick on Sunday afternoon, LeBron expressed his feelings on Kaepernick’s continued unemployment.
LeBron told Dave McMenamin of ESPN that he believes Kaepernick is being “blackballed” out of the NFL, saying “The only reason I could say he’s not on a team is because the way he took a knee.”
“I love football, but I’m not part of the NFL,” James told ESPN following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice Sunday. “I don’t represent the NFL. I don’t know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that. Just watching, he’s an NFL player. He’s an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he’s been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that.”
Additionally, LeBron talked about Kaepernick through the prism of backup quarterbacks. He mentioned that he watches the NFL every week and believes that Kaepernick is better than many of the backups who take the field every now and then.
As for the bigger picture, LeBron invoked the names of Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali when he praised Kaepernick for standing up for what he believes in, even if it has kept him from playing football.
“I’ve commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him,” James continued. “Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn’t see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature. When it’s something that’s new and it’s something that people are not educated about or don’t understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you’re doing is wrong. For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he’s done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that.”
These comments won’t get Kaepernick a job in the NFL or anything, but they’re still high praise from LeBron, both in terms of Kaepernick’s ability as a quarterback and his dedication to promoting social change at all costs.