LeBron James ran into the clutch at the end. He first scored what turned out to be the game’s winning shot by getting the offensive rebound from his own missed shot and putting it down. At the other end of the floor, he defended the Clippers’ two stars, Kawhi Leonard and then Paul. George, for denying the Clippers to make a score. The Lakers won, 103-101. The Utah Jazz defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 106-104.
But the resumption of the NBA season was bigger than basketball. All NBA players knelt during the national anthem, wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts.
After the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, NBA players and other athletes have been vocal in their calls for social justice, as America considers racism and the death of Americans at the hands of the police.
James has been one of the most prominent players in the NBA.
“The game of basketball has always been bigger than a ball and a string and ten guys on the floor, four referees,” James said early Friday talking to Turner Sports after the Lakers win.
“We used this platform to spread a lot of positive, a lot of love around the world,” he continued.
The season was suspended on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but James, other players and the league expect this restart to be a step in a positive direction.
“We understand what’s going on in society right now and we’re using this NBA platform as players, as coaches, as organizations to stay strong in that regard,” he said. “It’s a good start, it’s a good start tonight. It’s great to have the NBA back and I hope our fans are proud tonight.”
Why a black life happens
After Thursday’s game, James stressed that although progress has been made and the league has supported the efforts of the Black Lives Matters, work will still be needed.
“In the past, when we’ve seen progress, we’ve let go of the gas a little bit. We can’t do that. We want to keep our footing on the gas, keep moving forward, keep spreading love all over America.”
According to James, the fight against racism and police brutality is not over. Both want the momentum to continue so that people can finally be heard.
James also made sure to acknowledge how former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who famously began kneeling during the national anthem before the start of the 2016 NFL Games, sacrificed his career to shout attention to the unjust deaths of Americans.
In the years following Kaepernick’s silent protests, more people are listening to and rethinking their stances on systemic racism.
“I hope we’re proud of Kaep,” James said. “I hope we continue to be proud of Kaep. Every day, I hope it makes him proud of the way I live my life, not just on a basketball court, but outside.”
“Kaep was someone who stood up when sometimes he wasn’t comfortable, when people didn’t understand him, when people refused to listen to what he was saying.”