Even before news about the announcement out of the office of Kentucky’s attorney general came out, stating that the two officers accused of shooting and killing Breonna Taylor while executing a no-knock warrant in Louisville in March would not be charged by a grand jury, Lakers star LeBron James was dropping a forewarning into the team’s group chat.
“Bron texted the group chat,” Lakers guard Danny Green said, “that there was about to be an announcement made and some of us were near a TV and some of us were not, some of us were getting treatment and on our way to the meeting to do film and cleanup.”
James has been at the forefront when it comes to speaking out on issues of social justice, especially issues involving Black people suffering at the hands of police. He, like much of the NBA, has been especially attached to the cause of getting justice for Taylor.
Last month, James wore a bright red mock Make America Great Again hat—the hat that symbolizes the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump—except with the words “Great Again” crossed out. In place of those words: “Arrest The Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor.”
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 19, 2020
Lakers, NBA Players Will Seek Next Steps
Since the league returned to action in the bubble environment in Orlando at the end of July, NBA players have made the arrest of the officers who shot Taylor an important part of their cause. Many players were part of a Zoom call with Taylor’s family last month.
The Lakers were just gathering for a film session on Wednesday when news of the lack of charges—only one charge, for “reckless endangerment,” was levied and that came against a since-fired officer—became official.
“It happened right as we went into our team meeting,” Lakers guard Alex Caruso said. “Obviously, the results of what happened is not significant enough, not harsh enough in the eyes of people who are fighting for justice for Breonna Taylor. I am not sure legally what the process is next, I would have to do some more research, find some more information out. But hopefully there are more steps to gain better justice for her.”
There was some suggestion that the result of the Taylor probe could set off another reaction from NBA players, who boycotted three days’ worth of games in August in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. That does not appear likely at this point. Green said teams would have to take time before making such a decision.
“I think when the teams have a break, like Miami and Boston did, there will be time next week to reconvene,” Green said. “Obviously there is time between each round that we can take to reconvene and discuss. Hopefully, we continue, basketball is a small part of the bigger picture but hopefully we continue to compete and make it to the next stage.”
“We’re not going to stop. We’re going to continue to push and continue to use our voices.”
Danny Green reacts to the Kentucky grand jury’s indictment surrounding Breonna Taylor’s death. pic.twitter.com/sJwHefO3po
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 23, 2020
Lakers Expected to Play Despite Lack of Charges
Caruso said he was part of the Zoom call with the Taylor family, and he was impressed with the level of composure they had given the tragedy that had befallen them.
“How hopeful people close to Breonna were, how much strength they have,” Caruso said. “Because I mean, I am always trying to put myself in the position of the people who are going through stuff, I try to be as emotionally connected as I can, try to imagine if that was one of my sisters or one of my parents. Those people are a lot stronger, a lot more professional with the way they handled themselves if that had happened to someone I knew. Just the strength that they have and fortitude for them to keep fighting.”
Though the team was still processing the news Wednesday night, Green said it was clear that there was unhappiness over the decision.
“The responses that I saw and I got and that I discussed briefly with my teammates before I got into the meal room to watch film, nobody was really happy about it,” Green said. “It was disappointing a little—I guess, in a sense, something was done, but it wasn’t enough. Most guys thought it was definitely not enough. So, it’s a tough one. But we’re still trying to make the proper steps.
“We haven’t had time to reconvene. We need more time as a group, not just our team but everyone inside the bubble and outside the bubble, to figure out how we can continue to get progress in these certain aspects, these certain categories, these certain communities. Because what happened today wasn’t enough.”