Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James are arguably two of five greatest basketball players of all time, and rank just as highly among the best Lakers ever.
They’re both in the top three on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, they’ve won multiple league and Finals MVPs, and they’ve led two different teams to championships. However, the thing that makes them truly great is the way they use their platform to stand up against racial injustice. Abdul-Jabbar was a trendsetter in this regard, and James has been a spiritual successor.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests for George Floyd, a Minnesota native who was killed by local police last week, Abdul-Jabbar penned a beautiful op-ed for the Los Angeles Times explaining the importance of the cause. James has also expressed his support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Twitter.
Former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who never has shied away from speaking about social injustice, was the guest speaker and he was riveting, according to people familiar with the call.
Participants talked about how the Lakers organization and players can help steer a positive change going forward in Los Angeles and around the country in a racially charged environment.
LeBron James, who has been expressing his views about the problems African Americans face daily in this country, was one of the prominent players to speak Tuesday.
The Lakers also got an opportunity to ask Abdul-Jabbar questions about his role in the civil rights moments in the 1960s:
Abdul-Jabbar was asked “a lot of great questions” about how he dealt with racial issues while playing basketball during the 1960s and ‘70s, when there was civil unrest around the country.
James told Abdul-Jabbar how cool it was to see the picture of a young Abdul-Jabbar (then Lew Alcindor), Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and other prominent athletes gathered in 1967 in Cleveland with other civil rights activists. The group had come together to support Ali’s position in his refusal to be drafted.
LeBron and Kareem may have made a living through playing basketball, but their cultural impact goes far beyond the court, and they’ve paved the way for other athletes to use their voice to promote equality and fight against injustice. The fact that they both wore the purple and gold is just icing on the cake.