The Cleveland Cavaliers star, who is arguably the most celebrated athlete in the US, did add that he was concerned for his children at a time when police shootings of African Americans have attracted widespread attention.
“For me, my personal feelings is that I got a 12-year-old son, a nine-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter and I look at my son being four years removed from driving his own car and being able to leave the house on his own and it’s a scary thought right now to think if my son gets pulled over,” James said. “You tell your kids if you just apply [the lessons you teach them] and if you just listen to the police that they will be respectful and it will work itself out. And you see these videos that continue to come out and it’s a scary-ass situation that if my son calls me and says that he’s been pulled over that I’m not that confident that things are going to go well and my son is going to return home. And my son just started the sixth grade.”
James ended Cleveland’s long title drought when he led the Cavaliers to the NBA championship earlier this year, and was speaking at the team’s first media session ahead of the new season, which starts next month. He added that he had seen little to persuade him that the situation for African Americans was improving.
“Obviously, I know things don’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t seem like there is any change,” he said. “We just want the conversation to continue to be, ‘Who are our leaders? Who are our true leaders that are going to help us change what’s going on?’ Everyone is looking for that and no one knows.”
James clarified that his comments were not meant as an attack on the police. “None of us have the answer. But the more times that we can talk about it and the more times that we can [talk] about it [the better]. Because I’m not up here saying that all police are bad, because they’re not. I’m not up here saying all kids are great or all adults are great, because they’re not. But at the same time, all lives do matter. It’s not just black or white, it’s not that.
While James said he would not protest during the national anthem, he did say he respected Kaepernick’s stand. “I’m all in favor of anyone, athlete or non-athlete, being able to express what they believe in in a peaceful manner and that’s exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing and I respect that,” James said. “When I’m passionate about something I’ll speak up on it, so me standing for the national anthem is something I will do. That’s who I am, that’s what I believe in. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing. You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and he’s doing it in the most peaceful way I’ve ever seen someone do something.”
Elsewhere, one of the NBA’s most respected coaches, the San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich, also put his support behind Kaepernick. “I absolutely understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and I respect their courage for what they’ve done,” he said at this team’s media day.
“The question is whether it will do any good or not because it seems that change really seems to happen through political pressure, no matter how you look at it. Whether it’s Dr [Martin Luther] King getting large groups together and boycotting buses, or what’s happened in Carolina with the NBA and other organizations pulling events to make it known what’s going on. But I think the important thing that Kaepernick and others have done is to keep it in the conversation. When’s the last time you heard the name Michael Brown? With our 24/7 news, things seem to drift. We’re all trying to just exist and survive.”
This article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 27th September 2016 00.14 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010