The Hour reports after kneeling during the national anthem on the opening night of the NBA’s bubble restart, LeBron James dedicated the coordinated social justice demonstration to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
James, who led the Los Angeles Lakers past the Clippers at 103-101 at The Arena at Disney World on Thursday, said that Kaepernick “taught me a lot” about the protest issue. Kaepernick, once a star quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, has not played in the NFL since he began protesting police brutality by taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016.
“I hope we made Kaep proud,” James said. “I hope we continue to make Kaep proud every single day. I hope I make him proud on how I live my life, not only out on the basketball floor but off the floor.”
The Lakers and Clippers donned “Black Lives Matter” shirts and locked arms before their contest in a unified demonstration. Every player on both teams participated, as did the coaches and referees. A similar demonstration took place involving members of the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans earlier Thursday.
The 35-year-old James, who has been outspoken on political issues dating back to Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, called for the Louisville police officers who shot Breonna Taylor to be arrested last week. After praising Rep. John Lewis recently for teaching him to “never be afraid of conflict, good conflict, positive conflict that can create change,” James said he appreciated Kaepernick’s willingness to take a polarizing stand and to clearly state his motives, even when critics suggested that kneeling was disrespectful to the military or un-American.
“Kaep was someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable, when people didn’t understand, when people refused to listen to what he was saying,” James said. “If you go back and listen to his postgame interviews when he was talking about why he was kneeling, it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag, it had absolutely nothing to do about the soldiers, the men and women that keep our land free. He explained that, and the ears were closed. People never listened. They refused to listen. I did. A lot of my people in the Black community did listen.”