Lebron, Lakers Use Platform to Promote Social Changecsudhbulletin September 10, 2020 0 COMMENTS
Lebron James and other NBA players sought advice from former President Obama on how to make the most use of their platform to advocate for social justice. Illustration by Nova Blanco-Rico.
By Matt Barrero, Staff Reporter
The NBA season began as normal back in October and with that came high expectations for the Lakers as a whole. Alongside Anthony Davis, LeBron James and company were playing the franchise’s best basketball following an eight year stretch of substandard performances and disappointment. The historic organization had recaptured its luster once again and the new year of 2020 was on the rise. Little did we know, the normalcy of life and the events that would transpire could be best described as incomprehensible.
After a four-month hiatus, the NBA created a bubble on the campus of the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, and returned to play at the beginning of August. The league has been utilizing two arenas and unlike normal circumstances where we see ads and team logos spread across the respective playing surfaces, the two courts each share the NBA logo at the precise center and three words painted right above: Black Lives Matter. Additionally, the league has allowed players to wear special jerseys during games to promote messages that carry significant meanings whether it be in support of social change or education reform.
Following the incidents of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the most recent act of police misconduct took place on Aug. 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. when footage of Jacob Blake being shot seven times by the local Kenosha police department spread across social media. Several players have been, and continue to be, extremely vocal when discussing the social injustices that are occurring around the country. For LeBron James, this is a time where he can no longer stay silent.
In 13 seasons James has appeared in the NBA playoffs, the 35-year-old veteran has been known to take a social media hiatus during each of his postseason runs in which he describes as, “Zero Dark Thirty-23.” In his 14th postseason, and first as a member of the Lakers, James’ social media routine has had a different look as the superstar has been voicing his concerns via Twitter about the police brutality occurring throughout the country. Following the Lakers Game 4 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on August 24, James discussed in an interview with TNT how he has felt a wide range of emotions during his gameplay and of the events happening off the court.
“It’s what we’ve been talking about and it’s going to be what we continue to talk about,” James said. “To see what continues to happen with the police brutality toward my kind, the [injustice], it’s very troubling. We play a beautiful game…people [are] able to rejoice and enjoy it, but at the same time never losing track of what’s really going on in our world, especially here in America.”
An article on ESPN.com said the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association came to an agreement on putting three initiatives into place before game action would resume. One of those initiatives stated: “In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID.”
The Lakers organization did that as it partnered up with AEG and the County of Los Angeles to open Staples Center to serve as a voting center for the upcoming election this November 3.
James tweeted his happiness shortly before the Lakers defeated the Trail Blazers. James finished his Game 5 performance with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists becoming the first Laker since James Worthy in 1988 to post a 30-point triple-double in the playoffs. In his post game interview with the media, James focused his answers on how important it is for voters to get to the polls.
“Hopefully we can have some change,” James said. “I believe it starts with November. That’s why I started an initiative that I’m doing with More Than A Vote and getting people to understand what’s really at risk. By continuing to talk about change we then have an opportunity to make change but it still doesn’t stop there even with whoever comes next.”