The National Basketball League officially returned to action last night and included a matchup between Los Angeles rivals the Lakers and the Clippers. After every single player from both teams, along with the game's officiating crew, took a knee during the national anthem, Lakers star LeBron James said he hopes they made Colin Kaepernick proud, The Athletic reported.
"I hope we made Kaep proud...Every single day I hope I make him proud in how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor but off."James complimented Kaepernick, whose NFL career came to a unceremonious end following the 2016 season after the quarterback chose to kneel during the anthem. Kaepernick's protest was done in an effort to bring awareness to the issue of police brutality and provide support for the Black Lives Matter movement. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, James is one of many NBA players and coaches who are speaking out more against perceived social injustices.
"Kaep was someone who stood up when times wasn't comfortable or people didn't understand or people refused to listen to what he was saying," said the NBA star.
He went on to say that for Kaepernick, kneeling was never about disrespecting the flag or soldiers and that when the football player tried to explain that, it would make people feel uncomfortable.
James credits Kaepernick with helping the 3x NBA champion to fully understand the reasoning behind the protest, saying he was able to learn a lot from him.
But James himself did not always understand Kaepernick's actions, the future Hall of Fame inductee explained. He admitted that he was not fully educated on the cause in 2016 and did not want to choose sides until he was "fully educated on the purpose." So James did not kneel that following season, even with pressuring eyes upon him.
James faced criticism in 2014 following the shooting death of 13-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, who was playing with a pellet gun when he was killed by police. A member of the Cavaliers at the time, James remained silent on the issue for months and only spoke about it when prodded by reporters following the news of no indictments against the officers. The Ohio native said that he had not been keeping up with the story, and hence it would not be fair for him to comment.
As for the game itself, the Lakers defeated the Clippers 103-101, in a contest which many predict may be a preview of the Western Conference Finals. James put up 16 points, including making the game-winning bucket with less than 15 seconds to go.
In his postgame comments to TNT, James recognized the influence he has and acknowledged that professional basketball is more than just balls and hoops.
"It's an opportunity to use this platform to be able to spread a lot of positive, a lot of love, throughout the whole world," he said.