NBA players, coaches, and officials took part in demonstrations of peaceful protest on Thursday evening during the first two games of the Orlando bubble league. The Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, and Utah Jazz all knelt during the national anthem, the latest show of solidarity among NBA players in the fight against systemic inequality and police brutality.
These knees were taken before the first NBA games since the pandemic started, and while the action was taking place on the court, social justice was still top of mind. That was the case after both games, too, when players and coaches from both sides discussed the goal of making the world a better place.
Unsurprisingly, LeBron James was among those who used his platform to call for societal change. While talking to TNT after the game, James indicated that people need “to continue to put our foot on the gas” in this endeavor, saying that in the past, individuals have let up too early.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 31, 2020
James was asked about kneeling in his postgame press conference. He made it a point to shout out Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers signal caller who began sitting and then kneeling — which he started to do after consulting with a former member of the green berets — during the anthem during his final year in the NFL. James went on to say that he hopes that NBA players “made Kap proud.”
LeBron James on Lakers & NBA players following Colin Kaepernicks’s lead by kneeling: “I hope we made Kaep proud.” pic.twitter.com/th0ysPBdsj
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 31, 2020
“Kap was someone who stood up when times wasn’t comfortable, when people didn’t understand, people refused to listen to what he was saying,” James said. “If 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, it had nothing to do about the soldiers, men and women that keep our land free. He explained that and the ears were close, people never listened, they refused to listen. I did, and a lot of people in the Black community did listen, and we just thank him for sacrificing everything that he did to put us in a position today, years later, to be able to have that moment like we did tonight.”
James and the Lakers will next take the floor on Saturday evening in a tilt against the Toronto Raptors.