Mike Erman / Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers guard / striker LeBron James told reporters that he hopes the NBA will make former San Francisco 49ers defender Colin Copernicus proud after the protest before the national anthem.
Mark Medina @MarkG_Medina
LeBron James knelt during the anthem to protest systemic racism: “I hope we made Kaep proud.”; LeBron then explains his gratitude to the military https://t.co/FHYWyD06Hm
“Cap was someone who stood up when things weren’t comfortable,” said James (Lauren A. Jones of Los Angeles Sentinel). “When people didn’t understand … it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag, he explained it, and people never listened to it. I did it! We just thank him for sacrificing everything he did.”
Kapernik knelt during the national anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality during the 2016 NFL season.
As Rhiannon Walker (then The Undefeated) noted in a combination of responses to Kaepernick’s actions, the defender received praise, sharp criticism and some mixed reactions to his work in the sports world.
In the end, Kaepernick found himself out of the NFL after the 2016 season, despite producing in a mostly team 49ers team (18 total touchdowns and only four interceptions in 11 games).
On Thursday, players, coaches and referees involved in the Utah Jazz game against the New Orleans Pelicans and the Los Angeles Lakers against the Los Angeles Clippers all knelt during the anthem, with players wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
@Utahjazz and @PelicansNBA knelt in solidarity when @JonBatiste performed the national anthem before the NBA restart. https://t.co/dQeHSbUx87
Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers
United for a greater cause. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/dthLmon0a7
NBA players continue to promote the struggle for social justice as they play for the rest of the season on the Walt Disney World Campus campus near Orlando, Florida amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which halted four and a half months of the 2019-20 campaign, starting on March 11.
James explained the league’s announcements in an interview after NAM TV and NBA to TNT reporter Jared Greenberg after his team’s 103-101 victory, which was closed by his winning shot with 12.8 seconds remaining and subsequent defense when stopped from the other end:
NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT
“We want to keep putting our feet on gas… to keep spreading love across America.” @KingJames discusses the NBA’s restart and social change w / @JaredSGreenberg. https://t.co/HubuVKV03X
He also posted this post on Instagram, linked to an image of him raising his fist as he knelt during the anthem on Thursday: “What is your purpose in life ??? Create change, motivate and inspire others are mine! I just hope so. continue to be proud! I love you all! ❤️❤️❤️✊🏾✊🏾 #BlackLivesMatter #ThanksYouKap #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor. 💔 “
Messages from players come in a variety of forms, with some conveying thoughts during post-practice or post-practice press conferences.
It should be noted that after Utah’s 104-102 victory over Pels, jazz shooter Donovan Mitchell unveiled a bulletproof vest listing people killed for police brutality:
Taylor Rocks @TaylorRooks
Statement – Donovan Mitchell has a bulletproof vest. The vest reads the names of many killed for police brutality. He added the quote “Am I next?” Https://t.co/wUp1QYYNQk
In addition, players on all four teams listed messages on the backs of their T-shirts in support of social justice, examples including “Say Her Name”, “Equality” and “Black Vital Significance”.
The NBA restart will continue on Friday with six more games, starting with the Orlando Magic tilt with the Brooklyn Nets at 2:30 p.m. ET.