Lakers & LeBron James Address Justice, Accountability In Statement On Derek Chauvin Verdict
LeBron James, Black History Month shirt
Adam Pantozzi-NBAE

The Los Angeles Lakers released a statement in response to Derek Chauvin being found guilty on three charges in the murder of George Floyd. Floyd was killed in May of 2020 after Chauvin — a Minnesota police officer — put his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. The murder sparked national outrage and has ultimately ended with three guilty verdicts.

In the Lakers’ statement, they wrote that they are happy with the outcome of the trial, but that it is not nearly the end of the fight. “While we are encouraged by the conviction of Derek Chauvin, we need to acknowledge that the possibility for justice was foreclosed the moment George Floyd lost his right to breathe. Today, however, the court delivered the next best thing: accountability.

“We know that so many people are devastated by this tragedy, especially Black people in America. We grieve for George Floyd’s life specifically, and the multiple racial injustices that Black people face everyday in this country. We will continue to use our voice to demand that our nation live up to the promise of liberty, equality, and justice for all. As we do so, we will stand in solidarity with the numerous movements and organizations that seek to uproot racism and violence.”

Since 2013, Chauvin joins a group of only 0.28% of police officers to be convicted of a crime after causing a civilian’s death. Given that Black Americans are three times more likely to be killed at the hands of police officers, this lack of accountability clearly disproportionately affects them.

So while it is great to see an officer finally get some retribution for heinous actions, it is just the beginning of what could be a very long fight to end racial injustice in the United States. The Lakers — and the entire NBA — have shown a deep commitment to fighting systemic racism, especially beginning in the bubble in 2020.

Lakers star LeBron James quickly showed a similar sentiment with a tweet following the verdict:

Moving forward, the hope is not that police officers will all go to jail for their killings — though that is what should happen — it’s that we as a society will stop seeing civilians die because of police. This is why the NBA and its players have called for a systemic change, as it’s the only way to stop what has been happening for so long.

James progressing on the court

As he continues to be a spearhead in the social justice movement in the NBA, James is also working to get back on the court from his injury. Head coach Frank Vogel said he’s slowly getting back to where he was, but is still doing only light work. “Yeah, it’s still light work on the court, but he is doing court work,” Vogel said before Monday night’s game against the Utah Jazz. “Progressing each day. Just trying to do a little bit more with activity each day.”

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