Los Angeles Lakers third-year forward Kyle Kuzma has been at the forefront of players voicing their opinions on social issues plaguing the United States. Throughout the entirety of the NBA restart in the Walt Disney World bubble, Kuzma has used his platform to raise awareness.
He has also been very consistent with a belief that players should remain in the bubble and continue to play for a championship. While always maintaining respect for players who want to leave, Kuzma has said it’s the players job to play basketball, and that fighting for justice can and should happen alongside the game.
Kuzma reiterated this point, arguing that basketball is a job while advocating for racial justice is a lifestyle. “I want to take a step back from people saying or even players thinking that we’re here because of social justice. That’s not true at all,” Kuzma said.
“We’re here to play basketball. That’s our job, it’s how we make our living, plain and simple But the social justice issue, that’s an every day thing. That’s a lifestyle thing. That’s the misconception. We’re not here to fight social justice.
“We’re here to raise awareness, but not fight it. That’s an every day thing. You hear Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Kareem has told us, they’ve been fighting for social injustice and racism their entire life. That’s a lifestyle.”
Kuzma elaborated to discuss the culture shift in the NBA, with a majority of players now being activists in their own ways. “I think over the past decades of basketball players, that’s all we’ve kind of ever been, is just basketball players,” he began.
“It’s all we focused on, trying to bring enjoyment to fans across the world, and rightfully so. That’s our job. But at the same time, people need to realize we’re amongst the community too, we care about what’s going on in our communities, where we live and where other people live, because we’re human.
“There’s a lot of people from ghetto, a lot of people from middle America, in Kansas, Nebraska, that nobody ever hears about. For us, we understand that we have that access, platform and responsibility to do that for people across the country. That’s why we care about politics, because we live in the same communities as you do. That’s our job, being part of humanity.”
Only in the past few seasons have we started to see this change. Prior instances of activism have led to players being told to focus on their sport, which in turn has only led to them being louder than ever before. This is rightfully the case, as the NBA provides a very unique platform to speak with.
Kuzma has taken full advantage of that in this strange season, and will likely continue to do so as the NBA becomes even more involved in the community.
Kuzma solely focused on basketball in bubble
Kuzma’s mindset going into the bubble was to not get distracted by the amenities and perks provided by the NBA. Instead, he wanted to solely be locked in on basketball.
“I haven’t done much. I’ve just tried to get rest, done a lot of FaceTime with family, friends, girlfriend,” he recently said. “It’s nothing but basketball for me here, so I’m not really interested in doing a lot of the other things.”
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