It was very clear early on in plans for the Orlando bubble that a large group of NBA players feared that their resumption of the season may distract from the social justice issues in America related to racist police brutality. A variety of Los Angeles Lakers were on a conference call of around 80 NBA players who discussed this exact topic, including Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley. The league and the players have done a good job of not being a distraction, as many players including LeBron James and Alex Caruso have discussed the murders of Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans in their press conferences. Doing so has kept the conversation (at least within NBA news) at the forefront.
The Lakers are reportedly addressing the social justice issues in America in another way, as players from the team are reportedly planning on kneeling during the National Anthem this Thursday, July 30th (Lakers play the Clippers). The team reportedly met with the other teams staying in the hotel as them, with it being reported that players from those teams will do the same (reporting by Brad Turner of the LA Times).
Sources: NBA players plan to kneel during National Athem on opening nights of season, starting Thurs. Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, Raptors, Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat staying at same hotel had a meeting. “One of the 1st oncourt actions will be kneeling opening night,” player said.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) July 24, 2020
The teams will be kneeling during the anthem as a form of peaceful protest against the problems of police brutality against Black people in America. The act has, of course, became popular in American and International sports as a form of protest after NFL player Colin Kaepernick did the exact same thing starting in 2016. The action has been condemned by people in America, most notably President Donald Trump who still condemns the act to this day.
LeBron James spoke candidly about Black Lives Matter recently, saying the following (full quotes here):
“A lot of people use this analogy, saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ is a movement. It’s not a movement. When you’re Black, it’s not a movement. It’s a lifestyle. We sit here and say, ‘Okay it’s a movement. How long is this movement going to last? Don’t stop this movement.’ No, this is a walk of life. You wake up and you’re Black. That is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement. It should be a lifestyle. This is who we are. We understand that. We know that for one step that someone else might have to take or for one yard someone else might have to take, we know we gotta take five more steps. We know we gotta take ten more yards to get to the endzone.”