LeBron James has been leading the charge for social and political activism in the NBA since March 2012, when he and the Miami Heat donned hoodies in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s tragic passing. The three-time champion has made a concerted effort to speak out amid increasing unrest between the black community and law enforcement, too. It’s no surprise, then, that he was asked his take on Colin Kaepernick and other athletes across the country protesting during the national anthem at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ media day on Monday afternoon.
Like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and other stars before him, James commended the San Francisco 49ers quarterback for getting his point across in a peaceful manner. The 31-year-old also stressed that Kaepernick and those following in his footsteps aren’t deserving of the “negative attention” they’ve received for shedding light on the issue at hand. Will the Cavaliers superstar stage his own demonstration while The Star Spangled Banner plays before games this season, though?
“Me standing for the national anthem is something I will do,” James said. “That’s who I am, that’s what I believe in. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect or don’t agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing.”
LeBron, a father of three whose oldest son is entering sixth grade, was later asked a more specific question about police officers profiling young black men. His answer, to no one’s shock, was a bit less diplomatic.
The 13-year veteran qualified his remarks shortly thereafter, saying “not all police officers are bad” and “all lives matter.” Anyone reading too much into the latter comment, however, should consider crucial context of the recent past. James has indeed called for peace more than anything else following acts of violence that divided the nation, but also sympathized with Black Lives Matter in July after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
LeBron’s lectern stands much, much taller than Kaepernick’s. Anyone expecting him to go to such hot-button lengths of demonstration was always going to be disappointed. Don’t expect him to stay silent throughout future race-related tragedies that will inevitably stoke America’s fire, though. James, obviously, shares the pain and concern of millions of others so distraught by black people continuing to die at the hands of police.