LeBron James Says He Never Considered Sitting Out The Resumed NBA Season

Melissa Rohlin

While some players around the NBA questioned whether basketball would distract from the fight for social justice, one notable voice was silent. 

LeBron James didn't argue that players should play. He didn't argue that they should opt out. In fact, he didn't publicly say anything about the subject.

But on Saturday ahead of the Lakers first practice since the NBA was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11, James let his thoughts be known. 

When asked if he ever considered not playing in the resumed NBA season to make a statement, he didn't hesitate in his response. 

"No," he said. "It never crossed my mind that we did not need to play this beautiful game of basketball that brings so many people together, that brings happiness, that brings joy to the households, to so many families. From kids that are just born where they’re born and their parents put on their favorite teams’ clothing, to all the way to where you’re 60-, 70-, 80-years old."

For James, it was never a choice. Through basketball, he'll be able to amplify his voice while also doing what he loves. 

He'll soon have millions of people around the world watching him. Listening to him. 

"I can do both, though" he said. "I can bring happiness to a lot of homes with the way I play the game and with the way the Lakers are going to play the game. And I will continue to push the envelope and continue to keep my foot on the gas on creating real change for us as people of color in America."

James said that he will not wear a social justice message on the back of his jersey when the season resumes July 30, adding that none of the 29 messages that were approved by the NBA or NBPA spoke to him. 

"It’s just something that didn't really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal," he said. "I would have loved to have the say-so on what would have went on the back of my jersey. I had a couple things in mind. But I wasn’t part of that process, which is okay. I’m absolutely okay with that."

James, however, made it very clear that when he's not on the court trying to lead the Lakers to their first championship since 2010, he's going to pour himself into fighting racism.  

It's something James has long devoted himself to, way before the nation watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer on May 25. 

"This is the mission that I’ve been on for a long time now," James said. "And it’s great that now a lot of people’s ears are opening, a lot of people are understanding, a lot of people are recognizing."

James often uses his enormous platform of a combined 114 million followers on Twitter and Instagram to call out out racial injustices. 

He's also taken concrete action to create real change. 

James founded the I Promise School in 2018 in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, to help at-risk youth. He founded a nonprofit group named More Than A Vote last month to fight Black voter suppression. And he recently raised over $100 million to create a new media company, SpringHill Co., to give a voice to Black creators and consumers.

He knows he has a lot more work to do. 

And he's looking forward to having the world's attention on him over the next few months. 

There's a lot he wants to say. 

"We will continue, like I said, to push the envelope and let people know that we are human as well," he said. "No matter our skin color, no matter how we look, no matter how we sound. 

"We don’t want to just be used for our God-given abilities as far as our talent on the floor, our talents in the music industry, our talents in the industry as far as clothing and things of that nature. But we also want to be recognized for our talent with our brains because that’s what we are, just like everybody else. And we should be treated that way."