Following LeBron James’ first NBA game in more than four months, the Lakers star focused his postgame comments on more significant issues than how his team stacked up against the Dallas Mavericks in an exhibition.
James was sporting “#Justice4BreonnaT” on his sneakers Thursday night. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black female emergency medical technician who was murder by undercover officers carrying out a “no-knock” warrant while she slept in her bed. There were no drugs found at the scene of her death.
“First of all, I want to continue to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor and to her family and everything that’s going on with that situation,” James said to reporters as an opening statement. “…We want the cops arrested who committed that crime.”
The three-time NBA champion spoke with the media for nearly twice as long as his usual postgame conferences. Addressing a wide range of topics, including the systematic challenges that he feels Black people face in this country.
“A lot of people kind of use this analogy, talking about Black Lives Matter as a movement. It’s not a movement,” James said after scoring 12 points in 15 minutes in the Lakers’ 108-104 loss to the Mavericks. “When you’re Black, it’s not a movement. It’s a lifestyle. We sit here and say it’s a movement, and, OK, how long is this movement going to last? ‘Don’t stop the movement.’ No, this is a walk of life. When you wake up and you’re Black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement. It should be a lifestyle. This is who we are…
“I don’t like the word ‘movement’ because, unfortunately, in America and in society, there ain’t been no damn movement for us. There ain’t been no movement.”
James acknowledged just how “fortunate” it was that the death of George Floyd – a black man in Minneapolis who was killed after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes – was caught on video. Making the murder undeniable.
“I mean, is that what we need to see, a video of Breonna being killed to realize how bad the situation is?” James questioned.
Several NBA players have utilized their media availability to draw attention to Taylor’s case since arriving to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando for the restart of the 2019-20 season. James said he hopes that other players, who may typically feel “scared” of backlash, feel empowered to speak up now.
“Because it’s a time where we are being heard,” he said. “Either if you really care or not, we’re being heard. But that’s what’s most important.”
Asked if he sensed any progress since 2016. When he, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul called for social change while opening up the ESPYS, James’ notion of it being a different time.
“I mean, 2016, Barack [Obama] was our president,” James said. “We know what’s going on now. So is that progress? I don’t think, I think we all can see and say that’s not progress.”