LeBron James Reportedly Called for NBA Owners to Aid Black Community in Meeting

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James reacts to a foul during the first quarter of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the  Portland Trail Blazers, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James reportedly changed his stance about whether the NBA should resume the playoffs multiple times in recent days before urging the league's owners to make a bigger commitment to Black communities.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Friday that James said, "We're out," while walking out of one discussion among players before reversing course after a meeting with owners:

"On the call, James was stern in calling on owners to do more in aiding the Black community and to play more of a role in using their resources to combat systemic racism, sources said.

"James had already told players he was in, but depending on how the meeting went with owners, he would have reversed course if things went sideways, sources said.

"After the meeting, James felt comfortable with returning to the court, sources said. Owners promised that they would get to work on real action items that would benefit the Black community, sources said."

The season was pushed into a realm of uncertainty as players grappled with the desire to return to the front lines of their local communities to right for racial equality after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Sunday.

It was a renewed concern, as a number of players expressed their desire to focus on their communities and the fight for social justice before the NBA players arrived at the bubble in Orlando, Florida.

In June, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving led a chorus of players questioning whether playing games was the right course of action after the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody in late May.

"Once we start playing basketball again, the news will turn from systemic racism to who did what in the game last night," one unnamed player said. "It's a crucial time for us to be able to play and blend that and impact what's happening in our communities."

Some players remained concerned about whether their voices were being heard amid the decision to resume the season, but Chris Paul and Andre Iguodala "promised they wouldn't be moving forward without their best interests in mind," per Haynes.

A short time after the players' decision was finalized, NBA executive vice president Mike Bass released a statement confirming Thursday's games would be postponed with a hopeful return to the floor "either Friday or Saturday."

Several NBA teams have released statements about the need for meaningful change, including James' Lakers:

"We stand with our players and the players of the NBA in their demand for justice and the end of racial violence.

"Eighty percent of NBA players are Black men. We cannot love them for the joy and entertainment that they bring to the world, yet sit in silence and fail to use our platforms and resources to amplify their voices when they demand the justice and equality that America has promised us all, but denied Black people for too long.

"In 2020 alone, we have been made to bear witness to the killings of numerous unarmed Black men and women at the hands of the police, as well as private 'vigilantes.' Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Jacob Blake.

"We must continue to say their names. But now is also the time for us to say enough."

The Lakers are one of 13 teams still competing for the 2020 NBA championship.