Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar joined the Los Angeles Lakers for a Zoom call Tuesday to discuss nationwide protests seeking justice for George Floyd as well as the larger underlying issues of police brutality and racial injustice, according to the Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner.
"Abdul-Jabbar was asked 'a lot of great questions' about how he dealt with racial issues while playing basketball during the 1960s and '70s, when there was civil unrest around the country," Turner relayed about the one-hour conversation, in which LeBron James also discussed being the subject of racist abuse in the past.
"The Lakers did a great job letting their players have a voice," one source told Turner. "The Lakers understand what's happening. They have always been about helping their community and that hasn't stopped even now when the Lakers and others sports teams are needed the most."
Abdul-Jabbar wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on Saturday and has been a social activist throughout his life. The 73-year-old wrote a Washington Post article in 2016 supporting former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his kneeling during the national anthem to protest against police brutality and racial injustice.
During his playing career, Abdul-Jabbar was active in the civil rights movement, including supporting Muhammad Ali in his refusal to be drafted during the Vietnam War and boycotting the 1968 Olympic Games to protest inequality in the U.S.
Floyd was an unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25. During his arrest, since-fired officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the 46-year-old's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd was pronounced dead soon after at a nearby hospital, and an independent autopsy released Monday ruled he died as a result of Chauvin's actions:
Chauvin was initially arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter May 29. His charges were increased while the three officers involved with Chauvin in Floyd's arrest were charged for the first time earlier Wednesday:
CNN Breaking News @cnnbrk
The Minnesota attorney general is increasing charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder in George Floyd's death and also charging the other three officers involved in the incident, Sen. Amy Klobuchar says https://t.co/TOSDBV3q8x https://t.co/36qN8GMwVm
Abdul-Jabbar was selected first overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1969 NBA draft. The 19-time All-Star then played for the Lakers from 1975-89, winning six championships and earning six league MVP awards in his career.