In recent years, the NBA has made it a point to celebrate Martin Luther King Day, putting on a slate of games on different channels and paying respects to the impact Dr. King had on this earth. Two of those games always take place in Atlanta, where King was born, and Memphis, where he was assassinated. This year, the Los Angeles Lakers also took the court at home with LeBron James leading them to a win over the Houston Rockets.
LeBron was absolutely outstanding on this night with 48 points, eight rebounds and nine assists and despite obviously being happy with the victory, the Lakers superstar made sure to take time to reflect on what Dr. King stands for.
“First of all, it’s a beautiful day that we’re able to celebrate such a great man and what he stood for, and everybody that was around him, that still for him, and still for his views, as well,” LeBron said. “You know, for me, looking at guys like Dr. Martin Luther King, looking at guys like Muhammad Ali, you know, guys that, you know, spoke from their hearts of being able to understand, you know, what’s going on in the world, you know, and being able to use their platforms to be able to shine light on some discrimination things or, you know, on views, they believe in.
“That’s for the better of the people, no matter your color, no matter your skin, no matter how tall or short, no matter whatever the case may be. Your age. I’m gonna talk about how we can all be as one. How we all can preach love and not hate and things of that nature.”
Dr. King’s message is one that resonates with all people. As LeBron said, it was all about togetherness and shining light on the atrocities going on in their world and James, with his upbringing, always wanted to carry on that message if he had the opportunity.
“So growing up in the inner city seeing how underprivileged black people are, I always felt like, if I had an opportunity to be able to have any type of platform, I always wanted to give back to that,” LeBron added. “I always wanted to be able to use my voice, and people that I grew up like me to be able to understand that we do have power, we do have an opportunity to make people understand that there is good and love. I’m not nowhere near sitting up here saying I’m Dr. Martin Luther King, or I’m not I’m no, those guys literally stood on the front line and did it every single day. You know, but what I am honored to do is be able to kind of still live through them and be able to speak some of the words that they preached, and also lead by action as well.
“You know, being able to give back to my community and being able to speak for my people and the things that we’ve been through or many, many, many, many, obviously, years we know the history, but it’s definitely a treat to be able to perform and do what I love to do on such a great man’s day. You know, Dr. King is one of the greatest men ever walked the face of the earth.”
James has long been lauded as not just an all-time great on the basketball court, but also for what he has done off of it, never being afraid to speak his mind on anything he felt needed to be said. LeBron felt a responsibility and never backed down from that as a leader of black men in America.
Darvin Ham echoes LeBron James’ thoughts on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was also asked about his thoughts on the legacy of Dr. King and the message he preached throughout his lifetime. Ham, like James, was thankful for what Dr. King stood for and hopes to see his message be put more into practice around the world.
“I just think what he stood for, his message, is not something that should just be celebrated because it’s his holiday. I think it’s something that needs to be continuously put into action and be maintained,” Ham said. “I always think about one of his quotes: ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ That rings so loud and clear and we got to be better as human beings, regardless of race, color, gender, whatever, to try to take care of one another. You see it a lot where it’s every man for himself or every human for themselves. It can’t be like that.
“Whether it’s here domestically in our country or internationally in the world as a whole. I think you can’t just listen to his words or see his speeches or recite his beautiful words and then just leave it there. You have to put it into practice. And any day we can recognize a man who was that humble and that great and stood for what he stood for, that tried to affect change for the positive, it’s a wonderful day. I’m thankful for him and his message and everything that he’s trying to do within the civil rights movement.”