LeBron James, Others Sought Barack Obama's Advice During NBA Protests

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 28, 2020

President Barack Obama looks to Miami Heat forward LeBron James as he welcomes the NBA basketball champion Miami Heat, to the East Room of the White House, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

Amid a protest that forced the NBA to postpone the playoffs until Saturday, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and a group of players reportedly sought advice from former President Barack Obama on how to proceed with their activism.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Obama advised James, Chris Paul and others during a Wednesday call to resume playing in an effort to further their message against systemic racism. That followed a contentious meeting among players inside the NBA bubble during which the Lakers (including James) and the Los Angeles Clippers voted to end the season following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.

Sopan Deb @SopanDeb

Statement from President Obama’s office on conversations with LeBron James and co: https://t.co/87VdRKCrdN

Police officer Rusten Sheskey shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times in the back as he walked to his car after reportedly deescalating a dispute between two women. While he is expected to survive, he is currently paralyzed from the waist down, though it's unclear if the condition will be permanent.

Per Charania, the players suggested forming a committee for player action that Obama would be involved in.

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

The NBA and NBPA have put out the following joint statement about play resuming Saturday, along with initiatives the players and league will work on together: https://t.co/2Y2e9eFEfd

The NBA and NBA Players Association released a statement Friday morning to announce the playoffs will resume Saturday and list a number of initiatives the two sides will undertake. Among them is the establishment of a social justice coalition with representatives made up of players, coaches and owners to focus on issues including voting access, civic engagement and meaningful police and criminal justice reform.

That came after a meeting Thursday during which James helped lead a group of players in talking with owners about their options moving forward.

Per Charania:

"On Thursday, after the players agreed to continue playing this postseason, James was among the players in the room for a call with the 13 team governors with franchises inside the Bubble, league office, NBPA and Hornets' Michael Jordan, who serves as the labor relations committee chairman. He spoke for around five minutes and pushed for complete follow-up after the season ended, that the action topics did not die with the season, according to multiple direct sources on the call. James added he wanted to see the league and owners help build up poor communities, and that most people where he grew up couldn't afford to pay for television cable to watch his games."

In addition to his work within the league, James and a group of athletes formed More Than A Vote, an organization dedicated to increasing access to voting, earlier this year.