On Friday, Colin Kaepernick reached a settlement with the NFL for an undisclosed amount of money. The quarterback was suing the league for collusion, claiming that the owners had blackballed him from ever being on a roster again after his protests of police cruelty towards Black Americans during the playing of the national anthem became a global story.
Kaepernick has been supported by athletes everywhere for taking a stand despite the powers that be. Perhaps no one has been more vocal and influential in his support for the former 49ers QB than LeBron James.
On Saturday, James was asked about Kaepernick’s settlement and what his protests have meant by members of the media at All-Star Weekend. As always, the Lakers star was eloquent in his response:
“I stand with Kap. I kneel with Kap. I feel like what he was talking about nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody wanted to really understand where he was coming from.” pic.twitter.com/TUjpgK8JHj
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 16, 2019
Make no mistake that James saying Kap won his suit rather than saying he reached a settlement is not an accident. It seems fairly safe to say that NFL owners were worried enough about the case that they were willing to pay a lot of money to make it go away.
As for critics of the former Nevada standout claiming that he sold out: the lawsuit was separated from his cause. Kaepernick claimed that the league blackballed him, preventing him from making money as an NFL player. Of course, he was only going to settle for the money that they lost him. That doesn’t make his cause any less justifiable and real.
James also spoke about the “Shut up and dribble” controversy after a Fox News anchor criticized the forward for speaking out about political and social issues:
Lakers’ LeBron James reflects on “Shut up and dribble” controversy one year later: “I knew it wasn’t just about me… That’s unfair to all of us. We are so much more than what our occupation says or what our name tag says.” pic.twitter.com/u9VGR5jyXg
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 16, 2019
Athletes have often been influential figures in social justice and since Kaepernick’s original protest, their willingness to open up has increased, greatly. James is arguably the best athlete in the world. His ability to eloquently speak about these issues, especially ones that disproportionately affect Black Americans, is hugely influential.
The Lakers are lucky to have someone like James who somehow surpasses his on-court legacy off of it.