During a film session Tuesday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel talked to the players about the Jacob Blake shooting.
"The message was sort of along the lines of obviously it’s disheartening and disturbing for all of us, and it’s difficult to digest and go play a game," Vogel said in a videoconference call Tuesday. "But it’s OK to align our goals here with regard to we’re here to compete for a championship, but the further we advance in the playoffs, the further our platform to speak up on this grows. And I think it’s important for our guys to understand that."
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back by police officers multiple times Sunday as he opened the driver's side door of a parked SUV in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
After that incident, some players began questioning whether they should play basketball, expressing concern that entertainment is distracting from the fight for social justice.
“We shouldn’t have even come to this damn place, to be honest,” Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill told reporters Monday. “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
A discussion about the benefits and downsides of potentially boycotting games was held between the NBA Players Association executive committee and some players Tuesday evening, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Vogel said he hadn't heard that was the direction his team wanted go. It's unclear if that has changed.
"I would understand it, but I have not sensed that with our group," Vogel said.
After the Lakers' 135-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series, LeBron James spoke for 11 minutes about the Blake shooting.
"Quite frankly, it’s just f---ed up in our community," James said. "And I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as Black people in America. Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified."
James added that he's trying to accomplish two goals in the NBA bubble.
"I got half of my brain locked in on the playoffs and the other half locked in on how I can help Black people become greater in America," James said.
Vogel mentioned Tuesday that John Carlos, 75, recently spoke to the team about making a Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Carlos considered boycotting the Olympic Games, but instead competed in the 200-meter race, finishing third, and then raised a fist while wearing a black glove as the national anthem played during the medal ceremony alongside Tommie Smith, who won the race.
"The primary takeaway for me was he wasn’t just an athlete who won a medal and decided to make a statement at that point," Vogel said. "He trained with the intent of reaching the victory stand, so he could make the victory statement. He was motivated by this."
Vogel added there's nothing wrong with his players approaching the resumed NBA season the same way.
"I think it’s OK for all of us here in the NBA bubble to have that mindset, to try to align our goals and compete to advance so we can grow our platform to help affect change," Vogel said.