The Los Angeles Lakers win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Wednesday was an emotional one. For starters, it came on Kobe Day, a day after Kobe Bryant’s birthday just seven months following his tragic death alongside his daughter, Gianna. It also came a day after yet another Black man was shot by police officers in Wisconsin.
Jacob Blake was shot by a police officer seven times in the back on Sunday while reaching into his vehicle. His children were present at the scene. Blake has been admitted to the ICU after surgery.
This latest incident is one in thousands. It also follows high profile murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, creating months-long protests across the country and the world. Many NBA players have either joined in those protests or spoken publicly about the issues of police brutality and systemic racism. LeBron James, of course, is one of them and he once again used his platform after Monday’s win over the Trail Blazers to speak about Blake.
First, James used his post-game interview to speak his mind to a national TV audience, wishing his best for Blake and speaking about the importance of voting as one small step in seeking justice for these senseless actions:
LeBron addresses the police shooting of Jacob Blake:
"Never lose track of what is really going on in our world, especially here in America… my prayers go out to his family"
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 25, 2020
James continued the conversation in his media scrum after the game, speaking out on Black people’s fear of the police due to their violent actions and pleading for change in the system:
LeBron James: "I got half my brain locked in on the playoffs and the other half on how the hell I can help Black people."
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) August 25, 2020
Lakers’ LeBron James on Jacob Blake shooting: “If you’re sitting there telling me there was no way to subdue or detain him before the firing of guns, then you’re lying to not only me, you’re lying to every Black person in the community. We see it over and over and over. pic.twitter.com/9DHZZqcr6K
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) August 25, 2020
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 25, 2020
You can also see LeBron’s immediate reaction to the video of Blake’s shooting at this link but fair warning, the video itself is graphic and could be triggering.
LeBron was not the only player to use his platform to shine a light on the horrific incident. Kyle Kuzma also had strong words about the need for change in our policing structure:
Kyle Kuzma doesn’t mince words about Jacob Blake getting shot seven times by police pic.twitter.com/Qh4jjqEXH4
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) August 25, 2020
Obviously, athletes are not the ones enacting policy change to actually solve this historically recurring issue that has terrorized people of color and particularly Black people for the entire history of this country. But using their platform to inform viewers so that they can become more enlightened and fight for change in protests and at the ballot is a commendable action and James, in particular, has been at the forefront of a revolution for athletes to more openly speak out on these issues.
We can only hope that it will lead to positive change, sooner rather than later.