LeBron James hopes he made Kaepernick 'proud' by taking the knee with Lakers teammates during national anthem
'I hope I make him proud with how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor but off the floor,' James said
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James knelt down and locked arms with his teammates during the national anthem Thursday night. However, he clarified later that he also wanted to send a message to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Following the Lakers’ 103-101 win over the Clippers, James said he hoped "we made Kaep proud."
"I hope we continue to make Kaep proud every single day," he began. "I hope I make him proud with how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor but off the floor,” James said.
The Lakers' power forward continued, “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.”
Kaepernick made waves after kneeling during the national anthem four years ago to protest police brutality and racial injustice. However, he received major backlash from NFL fans and players alike that he was disrespecting the American flag and the military through his actions.
“It had absolutely nothing to do about the flag, had absolutely nothing to do about the soldiers, the men and women that keep our land free," James said. “He explained that and the ears were uncomfortable. People never listened. They refused to listen and I did.”
However, James did not appear to immediately follow through with Kaepernick's actions when some NBA players also took the knee in 2017. At the time, he resisted the gesture saying "my voice and what I do in my community is more powerful than getting on a knee.”
“I just don’t think at that point in time I was fully educated,” James said of his reluctance in 2017. “Strengthening the mind, reading, listening, getting as educated as I can be on any situation, on anything that’s going on. I’ve been always who I am. And until I’m fully educated and I’m fully aware of what’s going on, then I call for action. I feel like at that time I wasn’t fully educated on the purpose, what is the purpose at hand. And honestly, Kaep has taught me a lot about that.”
In 1981, the NBA established a rule that "players, coaches, and trainers must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines” during the national anthem. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had said at the time that he expected the rule to be followed.
However, Silver appeared to support players’ peaceful protest this time around. “I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” he said after the Jazz and Pelicans' protest, per The New York Times. The NBA's social justice efforts took the center stage Thursday night. Players, coaches, staffers, as well as referees, locked arms and kneeled during the national anthem following a PSA before each game.