LeBron James plans to keep speaking out on social issues

NBA.com Global on Aug 30, 2018 07:42 AM
LeBron James plans to keep speaking out on social issues
FILE - LeBron James speaks at the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, Monday, July 30, 2018. The I Promise School is supported by the The LeBron James Family Foundation and is run by the Akron Public Schools. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

NBA.com staff report

Back in February, LeBron James made it clear that when it comes to social issues and the political climate, he will not keep quiet. In the debut episode of his HBO show, "The Shop," James again spoke out about societal issues and how it has had an affect on him life away from the court.

James says he has lost popularity from speaking out on issues, but said he feels he must do so because he has an opportunity to inspire others with his words. ESPN.com has more from James in the latest episode of "The Shop":

"I want the satisfaction. Not for myself, but for everybody else. I was raised off of [rappers] Snoop [Dogg] and [Tupac] and [Jay-Z] and Biggie [Smalls], and now I get an opportunity to be the inspiration around what all of these kids are looking up to? And for me to just sit back and not say s--- when a lot of my peers didn't say s---? It didn't feel right.

"At the end of the day, when I decided I was going to start speaking up and not giving a f--- about the backlash or if it affects me, my whole mindset was it's not about me," James added. "... My popularity went down. But at the end of the day, my truth to so many different kids and so many different people was broader than me personally."

At NBA All-Star 2018 in Los Angeles, James spoke publicly after Fox News host Laura Ingraham criticized the three-time NBA champion for his recent comments about social issues. James previously responded with an Instagram post containing similar sentiments.

"We will definitely not shut up and dribble," James said then. "I will definitely not do that. I mean too much to society. I mean too much to the youth. I mean too much to so many kids that feel like they don't have a way out and they need someone to help lead them out of the situation they're in."

James made his initial public comments in question during a video segment on Uninterrupted, a platform co-founded by James. He was joined by Kevin Durant, and both superstars were sharply critical of President Donald Trump and the nation's racial climate. James referenced Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Jackie Robinson as athletes who previously spoke up for equality and change with no concerns about the consequences or any rewards.

"We know it's bigger than us," James said. "It's not about us. I'm going to continue to do what I have to do to play this game that I love to play, but this is bigger than me playing the game of basketball."

James was backed at All-Star media day by several All-Stars including Stephen Curry, Paul George, Draymond Green and Durant. They all believe athletes have an important opportunity to advocate for positive social change.

"We're a part of what's going on this world, what's going on in this society, just as much as anybody else," said George, the Oklahoma City Thunder forward from nearby Palmdale, Calif.. "We're fathers. We're sons. We're brothers. We've got family to look after. We're connected as deeply in this as anybody else is. For someone to go out and say, 'Stick to dribbling a basketball,' that's pretty ignorant. That just goes to show you where we are as a country right now."

Commissioner Adam Silver strongly supported James and other outspoken NBA players in February, saying he was "incredibly proud" of James and Durant in particular.

"As commissioner of the NBA, this is a legacy of important work that I've inherited, that I continue to encourage," Silver said. "These players are not just basketball players. They're multi-dimensional. They care about their communities, and they care about what's happening in their country. They then care enough to speak out, and sometimes at great risk to themselves, because it's not lost on them that there are some people who will disagree with them.

"Social media is full of hate as well. ... I'm really proud of them."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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