On August 23, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha, WI police officer, resulting in protests and unrest in the area amidst a summer full of protests against police brutality initially in response to George Floyd’s senseless murder in Minnesota. Blake survived, but is now paralyzed from the waist down. The event sparked a boycott from the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic in the middle of their first-round playoff series in the bubble, causing a chain of events that prompted all playoff games that day (including a game between the Lakers and Trail Blazers) to be postponed. The shooting is back in the news, as a Wisconsin district attorney announced there would be no charges filed against the officer who shot Blake. You can read more about the situation here.
Wesley Matthews is currently a member of the Lakers but was with the Bucks last season, experiencing their decision to boycott first-hand. He spoke at length about how upset he was about the district attorney’s decision, with quotes below transcribed by Kyle Goon of the OC Register. Matthews’ full comments are below as well, as he spent nearly eight minutes discussing the sad situation.
“This isn’t made up, this isn’t a lie, this isn’t fabricated, this is lives,” Matthews said. “These are lives right here. It’s upsetting as a Wisconsinite, it’s upsetting as a human being that, uh, that justice isn’t justice. It’s, uh, it’s tough. But it can’t knock us off the path that we’re trying to get to which is equality and just simply right and wrong.”
“I feel awful for Jacob Blake and his family. But at the same time, we just have to keep our foot on the gas, and that’s why we did what we did, to create awareness and to create a coalition amongst the NBA so that when things like this happen that families and people are supported. … It can’t deter us.”
LeBron James has never been one to shy away from addressing societal issues, especially societal issues revolving around Black men and women. As Melissa Rohlin of Fox Sports reported, LeBron said after the Lakers-Grizzlies game that the verdict was “a blow to the gut and the heart” while Anthony Davis said he feels like they let Jacob Blake’s family down.
"To hear what happened in Kenosha today was a blow to the heart and to the gut. … We gotta continue to stay strong and continue to believe in each other."
LeBron James spoke on prosecutors not filing criminal charges against police officers in the shooting of Jacob Blake. pic.twitter.com/h9RzhgsvcX
— ESPN (@espn) January 6, 2021
LeBron James was also asked by Kyle Goon of the OC Register about possibly blowback that LeBron will receive for his comments on such a political and sensitive issue. LeBron gave a lengthy answer that was full of depth and heart. Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll transcribed the full quote below:
LeBron was asked by @kylegoon tonight about the criticism he'll inevitably get for his remarks tonight — and any time he speaks about any social justice causes — and I thought his answer was informative and touched on a lot of stuff. pic.twitter.com/o3QJ8MTdKW
— Aggregation Nation's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) January 6, 2021
The news of the verdict and the Lakers players’ words hit harder than ever today, as the country continues to lay in unrest. No matter the situation, the players will continue to combat racist police brutality — one of the most important issues in America today.