LeBron James was in gear at the end. First, he scored what turned out to be the winning shot by getting the offensive rebound on his own missed shot and placing it. At the other end of the field, he defended the two stars of the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard then Paul George, to prevent the Clippers from scoring. The Lakers won, 103-101. The Utah Jazz defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 106-104.
But the resumption of the NBA season was more important than basketball. Each NBA player knelt during the national anthem, wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts.
In the wake of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, NBA players and other athletes have raised their calls for social justice as America counts with racism and the death of black Americans at the hands of of the police.
James has been among the loudest players in the NBA.
“Basketball has always been bigger than a ball and a rim and 10 players on the ground, four referees,” James said early Friday, speaking to Turner Sports after the Lakers win.
“We have used this platform to spread a lot of positive, a lot of love around the world,” he continued.
The season was put on hold on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but James, other players and the league are hoping this restart is a step in a positive direction.
“We understand what’s going on in society right now and we are using this NBA platform as players, as coaches, as organizations to continue to stay strong about it,” he said. he declared. “It’s a good start, it’s a good start tonight. It’s great to be back in the NBA and I hope our fans are proud of us tonight.”
Why black lives matter
After Thursday’s game, James pointed out that while there was some progress and the league had supported Black Lives Matters’ efforts, there was still work to be done.
“In the past, when we’ve seen progress, we’ve slipped our foot a bit. We cannot do that. We want to keep keeping our foot on the gas, keep moving forward, keep spreading love across America. “
The fight against racism and police brutality is far from over, according to James. He and others want the momentum to continue because people are finally listening.
James also made sure to acknowledge how former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem before the start of NFL games in 2016, sacrificed his career to attract the attention to the unjust deaths of black Americans.
In the years since the silent Kaepernick protests, more and more people are listening and rethinking their positions on systemic racism.
“I hope we made Kaep proud,” said James. “I hope we will continue to make Kaep proud. Every day, I hope to make him proud of the way I live my life, not only on the basketball court, but on the floor.
“Kaep was someone who stood up when sometimes he wasn’t comfortable, when people didn’t understand, when people refused to listen to what he was saying.”