Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has long been outspoken about social issues, especially recently, and he offered some insight this week about why that is.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s Jason Kelly, LeBron discussed what he is hoping to accomplish by addressing the issues head-on: “I speak about things that I’m knowledgeable about, that I’m educated on. And at the end of the day, right is right, and wrong is wrong. I want the betterment of people—no matter skin color, no matter race, no matter anything.”
James is one of the many athletes who have spoken up about racial inequality, social injustice and police brutality over the past month in the wake of 46-year-old Black man George Floyd being killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
Floyd was killed after Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed against the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed and facedown on the ground. Floyd said several times that he couldn’t breathe, but Chauvin did not move his knee.
Chauvin was fired, arrested and charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers on the scene—Thomas Lane, J.A. Keung and Tou Thao—were also fired and charged with aiding and abetting.
Following Floyd’s death, James posted a photo on Instagram showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd next to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling. James’ caption read: “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke.”
Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem throughout the 2016 NFL season as a means of protesting against racial inequality, social injustice and police brutality.
LeBron also tweeted the following in the days after Floyd’s death:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 31, 2020
James is currently preparing for the resumption of the 2019-20 season in Orlando, Florida, after it was suspended for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Twenty-two teams will report to Orlando, with each of them playing eight regular-season games beginning July 30. The top eight teams in each conference will then qualify for the playoffs and attempt to play for a championship.
James and the Lakers are the odds-on favorites in the Western Conference, as they are the No. 1 seed with a 49-14 record.