LeBron James on NBA players kneeling during the anthem: ‘I hope we made Kap proud’

LeBron James shared his thoughts on the moment before Thursday night’s Lakers-Clippers game, when every player, coach and staff member took a knee during the national anthem.

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The gesture was a continuation of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against racial injustice, police brutality and systematic oppression in the United States. Speaking candidly after the game, James said he hoped Kaepernick appreciated the act.

“I hope we made Kap proud,” James said. “I hope we continue to make Kap proud. Every single day I hope I make him proud on how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor, but off the floor. I want to always speak out against things that I feel like are unjust. I always want to be educated on things and go about it that way. 

“Kap was someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable, when people didn’t understand, people refused to listen to what he was saying. If you go back and go look at any of his postgame interviews when he was talking about why he was kneeling, it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag. It had absolutely nothing to do with the soldiers, the men and women that keep our land free. He explained that, and their ears were closed, people never listened, they refused to listen, but I did. A lot of people in the Black community did listen, and we just thank for him sacrificing everything that he did to put us in a position today, even years later, to be able to have that moment like we did tonight.”

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James said after a scrimmage game that Black Lives Matter “is not a movement.” Following the Lakers’ win against the Clippers, James was asked about that comment in an interview with TNT. He was also asked about the progress made by the NBA in regards to spreading awareness.

“There’s been progress, but in the past when we’ve seen progress, we’ve let our foot off the gas a little bit,” James said. “We can’t do that. We want to continue to keep our foot on the gas, continue to push forward, continue to spread love throughout America. We’re dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality, not only in my neighborhoods, not only with Black people, with people of color and it’s something that we want to continue to have people’s ears open to. We have ears now, but we cannot stop putting our foot on the gas, as we’ve been doing for the last few months.”

Fighting for social justice causes has been at the forefront of this NBA season. Players have been allowed to wear approved messages on the backs of their jerseys, the NBA court has “Black Lives Matter” written on it and players have been using their press conference time to talk about Breonna Taylor.

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