Both responded in short order, and without hesitation. The Cavaliers' superstar noted both on social media and during his All-Star press availability that he would do no such thing, while the Warriors forward said
Now, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has weighed in. During his press conference ahead of All-Star Saturday night, Silver said that he was "proud" of the two stars for speaking out on issues that are important to them. In addition, Silver noted that the derogatory comments bothered him.
Silver's full comments:
Well, let me begin by saying I'm incredibly proud of our players for using the platform they have as players in the NBA and on social media to speak out on issues that are important to them. And I was proud of LeBron and Kevin's response to the comments that were made about them.
I think even when I hear it even related to the one-and-done issue when people say that the one-and-done players shouldn't be in college because they don't care about an education I think is incredibly unfair to them. Just because they have enormous opportunity in the way maybe Bill Gates did or Mark Zuckerberg to create enormous wealth for themselves and their families certainly doesn't mean they don't care about an education. Many of them go on to continue to educate themselves, whether through going back to school in the summer, taking courses, doing things post-playing career. So it frustrates me.
I should also say it's not lost on me or anybody in this room that there is enormous amount of racial tension in this country, enormous amount of social injustice, and I do see a role for this league in addressing those issues. Essentially, I know everybody can see, but Bill Russell happens to be sitting here at this press conference, and your question sort of reminds me of the role that players like Bill Russell have played historically in speaking out on important issues.
It's interesting. Here we are in L.A., and, Bill, you probably remember this, but the first All-Star Game that took place in Los Angeles was in 1963. You were the MVP, and then of course the Celtics went on to win a championship that year. But maybe even more
importantly, then, in the summer of 1963 you stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. King gave his "I have a dream" speech.
So to me there is this direct through-line from players like Bill Russell, here it was roughly 55 years ago, to LeBron and Kevin Durant speaking out today on issues that are important to them. So as I've said before, to me as Commissioner of the
NBA, this is a legacy of important work that I've inherited, that I continue to encourage, and it doesn't mean I necessarily agree with everything that's said at any given moment, but the fact that these players are not just basketball players, they're multi-dimensional,
they care about their communities, and they care about what's happening in their country. They then care enough to speak out, and sometimes at great risk to themselves because it's not lost on them that there are some people who will disagree with them. Social media is full of hate as well.
So I just conclude by saying I'm really proud of them.
Once again, Silver gave a very thoughtful answer.
From afar, it's neat to see Silver give the players so much support, and it must feel great for the players as well to hear the commissioner back them up.
Given that this wasn't the first time that LeBron and Durant have spoken out about social issues that they fell are important, it seems likely that it won't be the last time we hear from them in this area.