A powerful moment took place before the first seeding game between the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers. Players and coaches from both teams as well as officials locked arms and took a knee together as the national anthem played.
When there was concerns from players about coming back and finishing the season in Orlando, one of the major sticking points was the ongoing fight for social justice and racial equality. Many players hold this fight close to heart and did not want the message to be lost in the shuffle as the games resumed.
However, the league and players have worked together to ensure this doesn’t happen. The act is the latest in decisions by the NBA and NBPA to continue to push this fight that means so much to players around the league and many around the world.
LeBron James has been at the forefront of the conversation for years, so for the teams to take actions like this undoubtedly meant a lot to him.
“I hope we made Kaep proud, 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 on the basketball floor but off the floor,” James said.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has been extremely outspoken on this cause as well, not shying away from any discussions on the topic. The coaches of the NBA have come together on this point as well and this stance was something that was important to Vogel.
“I was proud to do it, proud to support our players, proud to support the African-American community and proud to promote racial justice,” he said.
“We’ve got the greatest country in the world, but we’re flawed. Protesting the way we did is patriotic. Non-violent protests are patriotic. That’s what we learned from John Lewis. For me to be able to be a part of that, to support racial justice the way we did, I’m very proud to be a part of it. It’s not about disrespecting the flag or military.
“Nobody supports the military as much as the NBA with the programs we have. It was just something I was proud to be a part of.”
Likewise, Anthony Davis was moved by the show of solidarity and continued push of this message. “We wanted to make sure we did something that the NBPA, NBA and all the players had a consensus on. We decided kneeling was best and something we could do as a league and be unified,” Davis explained.
“I didn’t know they were going to have a video up there first, so I thought that was pretty cool. I think that was really cool to play that video and remind us of what’s going on in the world, because we’re so locked into this bubble, we’re not out there seeing what’s going on unless it’s on social media.
“For both teams to come together, the head coaches, and us locking arms in front of Black Lives Matter, I think it was a powerful statement.”
Once teams get on the court all focus is on winning, and the Lakers did just that with their 103-101 victory over the Clippers. But before and after those 48 minutes on the court, the league and players are making sure the bigger message doesn’t get lost.
Davis leads Lakers to victory in first seeding game
Davis finished with 34 points and 8 rebounds as the Lakers got a win over the Clippers in their first seeding game of the season restart. The Lakers rallied from an 11-point deficit in the third quarter to come away with the win, after blowing their own 13-point lead in the first half.
James finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists and was the deciding factor down the stretch. James followed his own shot for the game-winning basket with 12 seconds remaining before stepping it up on defense in the final possession to force a Paul George miss to clinch the victory.
The Lakers also got a boost from their bench as Kyle Kuzma poured in 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Dion Waiters added 11 in his first official game as a Laker. The Clippers were led by George and Kawhi Leonard who scored 30 and 28 points, respectively.
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