Back in May, following the death of George Floyd, allegedly at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Lakers star LeBron James posted an image on Instagram. The image showed one of the officers, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the neck of Floyd juxtaposed next to an image of Colin Kaepernick in a 49ers uniform, kneeling before an NFL game.
“This …” the caption on the photo said, above the photo of Floyd, “… Is Why.” The implication was clear: Kaepernick, who has been out of the NFL since 2016, was kneeling to protest police violence, the very violence in which Chauvin was partaking while kneeling on Floyd. James wrote on his post, “Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you??”
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
After another tumultuous week across the country, James showed up to the Lakers’ game against San Antonio on Thursday night wearing a shirt that repeats his Instagram plea, in all caps: “DO YOU UNDERSTAND NOW?”
Shortly thereafter, James sparked controversy with an Instagram post that read, in part, “No matter what happens, you still won’t be judged, looked at crazy, chained, beaten, hung, shot to death cause of the color of your skin!!!! 2 AMERIKKKAS we live in.”
LeBron James Spoke About the Jacob Blake Case This Week
The shirt is an apparent reference to the violence that exploded at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday as Congress met to count the electors from the 2020 presidential election, which would confirm Joe Biden as the winner and president-to-be.
That violence overshadowed news from the previous day, when it was announced that prosecutors in the case of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, would not file charges against the officer who fired the shots. Blake has been left paralyzed and his shooting, in August, caused NBA-wide protests during the league’s bubble restart in Orlando. At the time that Blake was shot, the remainder of the NBA season was nearly lost to a player boycott.
“To see that verdict, it was just a blow to the heart and to the gut,” James said. “Not only to that community but to us and every Black person that has been part of this process and been seeing these outcomes for so long. … But we’ve got to continue to stay strong, continue to believe in each other and continue to push for the greater change and the greater good.”
LeBron James, WNBA Owner?
James was also heavily involved in another off-court bit of news this week, when the voters of Georgia voted out two Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, in favor of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock on Tuesday night.
In July, James and other athletes and entertainers started the group, “More Than a Vote,” to help get more voters registered ahead of the 2020 elections and to protect the rights of Black voters. Georgia was seen as one of the group’s success stories.
“To hear my people turn out in Georgia in the fashion that they did — I’m definitely going to get some more information on it but I heard they turned out in Georgia and that’s commendable,” James said Tuesday night, before the final results in Georgia were known. “It’s something we started with ‘More Than a Vote’ and we want to continue to do that, continue to support actions like this and causes that went on today.
“That’s been going on, obviously. I’m proud of my people for getting out there and doing what they do best, and that’s being heard and being seen and being powerful and being engaged.”
To top it off, there was this: James openly wondering whether he should purchase the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team owned in part by Loeffler. For months, Dream players have been expressing their displeasure with Loeffler, wearing T-shirts saying, “Vote Warnock.”
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 6, 2021