Prior to tipping off as part of the NBA restart, Los Angeles Lakers players and coaches and those from the L.A. Clippers took the knee next to one another during the national anthem to protest against racial inequality.
Lakers All-Star LeBron James hopes the powerful gesture made former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick “proud.” Kaepernick’s kneeling while the national anthem is played has become a symbol of the fight for social justice.
Protests in support of the cause reinvigorated following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis earlier this year, prompting tens of thousands of people across the United States to take to the streets despite the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Many NBA players took part in demonstrations and were worried the season’s restart would be an unnecessary distraction from the momentum-gaining movement. But the league and NBPA found an agreement allowing the players to support the protesters in multiple ways while in the Orlando bubble. That includes following Kaepernick’s example and taking the knee.
“Kaep is someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable,” James said following the 103-101 victory over the Clippers. “People didn’t understand, people refused to listen to what he was saying. If you go back and look at the interviews, he was talking about why he was kneeling, it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag, it had absolutely nothing to do about the soldiers that keep our land free.
“I hope we made Kaep proud, I hope we continue to make Kaep proud every single day. We thank him for sacrificing everything he did to put us here today, years later to be able to have the moment we did.”
James, who said in the past he would not kneel during the anthem, explained he was not “fully educated what is the purpose at hand” at the time to support Kaepernick. The Lakers star added that the former 49ers quarterback “taught him a lot” about the quest for justice.
James has also said he is not bothered by people opposing the kneeling. “No matter what you do in life, you’re always going to have people that will try to pick apart whatever you do,” he added.
“If you’re passionate and true and authentic to whatever your cause is, then it doesn’t matter. For me, I couldn’t care less about the naysayers. I’ve been hearing it for too long. I’ve been done caring about that.”
Davis felt regular season-like intensity against the Clippers
Anthony Davis said that even though the Lakers played against the Clippers in Orlando without fans, the intensity on the court felt very similar to that of a regular season game. Davis lauded the league for the introduction of the crowd noise and the video boards with fans connecting virtually from their homes.
But the forward, who ended the game with 34 points, said that, at the end of the day, it was the developments on the court that mattered. “When we’re out there playing we don’t really notice there aren’t fans at the game. We just go out there and compete, try to get the win,” Davis said.
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