LeBron James insisted the return of basketball should not distract people from the most pressing issues facing the United States.
James starred as the Los Angeles Lakers completed a 4-1 series victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs with a 131-122 win on Saturday.
The match in the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort followed a three-day strike amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice after the shooting of Jacob Blake – a black man – in Wisconsin.
And James, who has been an ardent supporter of the action that was initially prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision not to take to the court for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, wants the focus to remain firmly on such matters.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 29, 2020
“We are trying to create change. We can’t lose sight of what the main thing is,” he said, having showcased his on-court influence with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“It’s not just about me but it’s about every other player in this league and how we continue to shed light on things that are going on in our community, things that are going on around America, things that are going on around the world and to have this platform, the NBA platform.
“As the Golden State Warriors said for years and years and years, there is strength in numbers. And that is the case here.”
James, along with many in the NBA, was reluctant to return to the court until concrete plans were put in place to begin to address the issues raised by the shooting of Mr Blake, including NBA arenas being used as polling stations for elections.
The 35-year-old is hopeful further progress will be made towards achieving those goals after he and his fellow NBA stars took a stand.
“Hopefully, the past couple days will make a change for the greater good and the future,” he said.
“The bubble season will never be forgotten when it comes to sports… but obviously this moment is so much bigger than us playing basketball.
“Hopefully, years on down the line when America is in a better place, that you can look back on to this moment and be like ‘that was one of the catapults that got it going’.”