LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Thursday night, the NBA's re-opening began with a call for social justice.
Players and coaches from the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers kneeled alongside one another in front of the Black Lives Matter logo during the playing of the national anthem in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
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Lakers star and Akron native LeBron James was asked after the game about the statement in support of racial justice.
"I hope we made Kaep proud," James said, referring to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. It was Kaepernick who began the silent protest of sitting, then kneeling during the national anthem as a way of calling attention to racial inequality in America.
“I hope we continue to make Kaep proud every single day. I hope I make him proud with how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor but off the floor,” James said via USA TODAY following the Lakers’ 103-101 win over the Clippers Thursday. “I’ve been one to always speak out about things that I feel like is unjust. If I’m educated on things, I always go about it that way. So Kaep was someone who stood up when times weren't comfortable, and people didn’t understand or refused to listen to what he was saying.”
Earlier on Thursday, the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz also joined together by taking a knee before the first game of the NBA restart, an unprecedented image for the league in unprecedented times.
The coaches - New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry and Utah’s Quin Snyder - were next to one another, their arms locked together.
Some players raised a fist as the final notes of “The Star-Spangled Banner” were played, the first of what is expected to be many silent statements calling for racial justice and equality following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in recent months.