It has become a coordinated effort around the NBA and on Thursday, the most recognizable player in the league—Lakers star LeBron James—joined the chorus of players repeating the phrase, “Justice for Breonna Taylor.”
After the Lakers opened their NBA restart scrimmage slate with a loss to Dallas, getting their first live-action look at how game situations will present themselves as the league attempts to finish the 2019-20 season, James had a message. He began his press conference by saying, “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 came out for the scrimmage with a handful of messages written on his shoe. Among them was the hashtag, “Justice4BreonnaT.”
Taylor was shot and killed in her apartment in March by Louisville police who were executing a no-knock warrant. She was not suspected of any crime. One of the police officers involved in her killing was fired and two were reassigned, but none have been arrested. Taylor received no medical attention for 20 minutes after she was shot.
Several NBA players were on a Zoom call this week with Taylor’s family, promising that the league would keep pressure up on officials in Louisville and in Kentucky.
James was blunt about what players are demanding in the Taylor case: “We want the cops arrested who committed that crime.”
LeBron James: ‘This is a Wrong Situation That’s Going On’
James pointed out, too, that the support for Taylor’s family goes well beyond the NBA, though one of the stipulations that players had before going to the league restart in Orlando was that social justice issues remain front-and-center. Players will continue to talk about Breonna Taylor and others who have been the victims of police violence.
“Obviously in the state of Kentucky, what’s going down there, I know a lot of people are feeling the same,” James said. “Us, as the NBA, and me as one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know and I want the state of Kentucky to know that we feel for her and we want justice. That’s what it is all about.
“What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. This is a wrong situation that’s going on, in my eyes and in a lot of other eyes, not only here in America but in the world as well.”
All Over the NBA, Players Share a Message: ‘Justice for Breonna Taylor’
Other players have made Taylor an important talking point in all press conferences and media availabilities in the last week. Among them:
- Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who addressed a group of reporters by telling them that all questions would be answered the same way: “Justice for Breonna Taylor.” Smart acknowledged he was on the call with Taylor’s family but every other question was answered with, “Justice for Breonna Taylor,” as promised.
- Lakers guard Alex Caruso, who answered a couple of questions about missing out on a family matter before telling reporters, according to ESPN.com, “Anything today that you ask of basketball, I’m just going to respond with, ‘We need justice for Breonna Taylor.’ That’s going to be my response to the rest of the questions if they’re basketball-related.”
- Clippers guard Paul George, who talked about the deaths of Taylor as well as George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died after an office knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. “There are so many others that have been brutally murdered by the hands of police,” George said, according to USA Today. “That’s all I got. That’s my message for everyone. That will continue to be my answer.”
- Early in the week, Sixers guard Tobias Harris got specific when discussing the Taylor case and the need for arrests, pointing to the inaction from Kentucky’s attorney general, Daniel Cameron. According to Sports Illustrated, Harris said: “We want to make sure that [Kentucky Attorney General] Daniel Cameron will arrest the cops and officers involved with Breonna Taylor’s death. And that’s all I’ve got to say.” Another question came in and Harris repeated, “That’s going to be my answer for every question. Daniel Cameron, step up. Do what’s right. That’s the only message I’ve got today. I appreciate everybody. Thanks.”
- There was also this tweet from Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, which sums up the mood from James and other NBA players on the subject: