As the NBA is set to resume the season, there are some players who feel a return to the court could take away from the Black Lives Matter movement we currently see happening across the world. Most notably, Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard.
Players continue to have very real conversations around that issue. Players Association executive director Michelle Roberts told ESPN, "It's not a question of play or not play. "It's a question of, does playing again harm a movement that we absolutely, unequivocally embrace? And then whether our play can, in fact, highlight, encourage and enhance this movement?"
The league is still on track to return in July, and Clippers guard Patrick Beverley took to Twitter to at least hint, or perhaps troll, at what he apparently believes is one reason why.
But is it really fair to put the onus of the NBA's return solely on LeBron James?
Obviously James is the league's most important voice, and if he feels he can make an impact and play simultaneously, as has been reported, his track record backs that up. But, he's clearly far from alone in wanting the season to resume, and players are expected to be given the individual choice whether they want to participate.
So, while it would be naive to deny LeBron's influence, it isn't exactly right to make it seem as if the resumption of the season would be all about him.
"Well, that's not fair. But I mean, it's reality. LeBron James is the face of the NBA, both on the court and off the court," said Littal, "And he's also the biggest face of an athlete when they speak out against social injustice and racial injustice. So what LeBron says means a lot. And he hasn't said anything yet. And I think people are waiting for that now."
Rohlin also noted that LeBron hasn't talked about returning to the court since George Floyd was killed. "He's only spoken about social justice issues, about police brutality. He started a group on Black voter suppression, but he has not weighed in on the resumption of the season."
She added that it is presumed he wants the season to return and doesn't foresee a divide amongst the Lakers as she expects the team to follow his lead. And Littal stressed he believes it is important that we as a country don't get distracted.
Clearly, fair or not, LeBron James will continue to be at the center of the NBA, as he always is. And if the league does return to play as planned, how he chooses to use that platform will be significant.