When the first reports surfaced that the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic decided to stage a wildcat strike and sit out of their playoff game on Tuesday as part of a protest of Jacob Blake being shot by police, Lakers star LeBron James was fairly quick to take to Twitter with his support:
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
By the time the players and coaches in the NBA bubble had a meeting later to discuss the next steps after all of the game of the day were postponed because of the players’ plans to strike, James’ energy hadn’t changed much.
He and his Lakers teammates (as well as the Clippers roster) voted to end the season and then left the meeting when the other teams didn’t agree with that course of action. During the session, James made his feelings on the matter especially clear, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
LeBron James left an impression among those who attended the meeting that he would prefer to end the season, sources said.
As for why James feels that way, it’s clear that the shooting of Blake deeply affected him, and it has been obvious for nearly the entire time he’s been in the bubble that he misses his family. However, according to Haynes, his reasons go even deeper than that.
James was also critical of NBA ownership, suggesting it wasn’t doing enough to support players and Black people facing systemic racism, sources said.
It’s hard to argue with that part when NBA ownership groups include the DeVos family (who own the Magic and include Betsy DeVos, a member of Donald Trump’s presidential cabinet), Tillman Ferttita (who owns the Rockets and has donated to Trump), Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert (who in addition to his ugly past relationship with James has also financially supported Trump), among others. Yes, the ownership ranks have made a financial commitment to empower Black-owned businesses, but from cancelling police contracts with arenas to using their money to fund politicians and causes that their players stand for instead of those that actively work against them, there is clearly a lot more they can do, despite some not seeing it.
So if part of this for James is just that he doesn’t want to keep putting money in the pockets of people he feels don’t care about him or his people, then hey, that’s his choice to make. As for what this will mean for him if the NBA doesn’t opt to cancel the season, that part isn’t clear yet. The players and the league both have meetings set for 8 a.m. PT tomorrow, so we should get more answers on all of this then.