LeBron James has accomplished more for social justice causes than almost any other athlete on Earth. He has spoken out in favor of gun control, started an organization dedicated to expanding voting rights, and even founded a school in Akron. Yet, if there's any modern athlete that has done more to advance the cause for African Americans in the United States, it is Colin Kaepernick.
The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has become an icon for kneeling during the national anthem ahead of games as a form of peaceful protest against police brutality, and that movement spread like wildfire in his wake. Practically the entire NFL knelt during Week 3 of the 2017 season, and while the NBA had previously been devoid of such protests, all four teams that played on Thursday knelt during the anthem. That included, for the first time in his career, James, who said after his win over the Los Angeles Clippers that he hoped Kaepernick was proud.
"I hope we made Kaep proud," LeBron began. "I hope we continue to make Kaep proud. Every single day I hope I make him proud on how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor, but off the floor. I want to always speak out against things that I feel like are unjust. I always want to be educated on things and go about it that way.
Kaep was someone who stood up when times weren't comfortable, when people didn't understand, people refused to listen to what he was saying. If you go back and go look at any of his postgame interviews when he was talking about why he was kneeling, it had absolutely nothing to do with the flag. It had absolutely nothing to do with the soldiers, the men and women that keep our land free. He explained that, and their ears were closed, people never listened, they refused to listen, but I did. A lot of people in the black community did listen, and we just thank for him sacrificing everything that he did to put us in a position today, even years later, to be able to have that moment like we did tonight."
Social justice has been at the forefront of the NBA's resumed season, with players wearing approved messages on the backs of their jerseys and the words "Black Lives Matter" prominently painted onto the court. Thursday's actions only furthered that statement. Both the NBA and the country have a long way to go before achieving racial justice, but what happened on Thursday was another small step in the right direction.