LeBron James arrived at Monday's game against the Utah Jazz wearing a black T-shirt that had a graphic of a white stopwatch on it with the numbers 8:46 on display, which was the amount of time that police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd's neck in Minneapolis on May 25.
On the back of the shirt, there were eight stopwatches showing 8:46 with different cities listed underneath them: Houston, London, Tokyo, New York, Atlanta, Seoul, Paris and Los Angeles.
Below them was the following message: "The world is watching this time."
James said he couldn't help but think about Floyd when the Lakers played the Toronto Raptors on Saturday and both teams were on their knees for an extended period of time.
"We kneeled for two national anthems and I think it was a little bit over four minutes," James said after the Lakers' 116-108 win over the Jazz in which they clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the first time since 2010. "And we actually as a unit, as a team, had to switch our knees over from one knee to the other knee because they started to get sore. They started to kind of start hurting a little bit. And that’s just a little over four minutes.
"And you think about eight minutes and 46 seconds, an officer having his knee on someone’s throat for that long. Video or no video, it doesn’t matter. No one deserved to lose their life when it could have been prevented from what I’ve seen and from what the world has seen. So, that’s what the T-shirt is all about: the world is watching. Everyone knows the time. Everyone knows what’s going on. You saw all the great protests that went on throughout the whole world. Not only supporting us here in America, but more importantly supporting George Floyd and his family. So that’s what it was about."
After Floyd's death, some NBA players questioned whether to participate in the resumed NBA season at Walt Disney World, worrying that it would distract from the fight for social justice.
In James' first media availability on July 11, he said "it never crossed my mind" that players should opt out of the restart because he believed they could bring people the sport they loved while simultaneously using their platforms to fight racism.
On Monday, he said that was the right decision.
Since arriving in the NBA bubble, James has spoken out multiples times demanding justice for Breonna Taylor and discussing system racism in interviews that were shown on national television and written about in outlets nationwide, as have many other players in the 22-team restart.
"There were so many conversations before we got here that this right here, the bubble, us playing basketball, would take away from the main thing," he said. "I think it’s been the absolute opposite of that. It’s given us the opportunity to every single day speak about [and] feel passionate about whatever is going on in your personal life, whatever is going on in society. Us trying to make a change. Being dynamic. Being heard. And using this platform, which is the NBA, the most popular game in the world."
After video footage of Floyd's murder went viral, sparking worldwide protests, James used his massive platform of 116 million combined followers on Twitter and Instagram to try and affect change.
When James, the face of the NBA, was asked if he also wanted to participate in protests, he acknowledged that he was torn.
"Yeah, I had my moments," he said. "I definitely had my moments...[I] know that I can be just as effective by the way I work, using my platform, using my voice, doing the things that I’ve been doing behind closed doors to be very effective as well. So there was part of me that was like, ‘I wish I was out there as well in the front line.’ For sure. But I know how efficient I can also be behind closed doors. And there’s a lot of things going on that a lot of people don’t know that I’m able to change."
James took concrete action.
Last month, he helped found a nonprofit called More Than A Vote to help fight Black voter suppression ahead of the upcoming presidential election.
"I think November is very huge, that’s why I started the initiative, you know, More Than a Vote, getting people out there to understand that their vote does count," he said. "That their word is being heard. And hopefully we can get into our communities, especially the Black communities.
"...They don’t believe that they can go and effect change. And that’s something that I grew up feeling the same way. I never believed in a small community, and a Black community, that people really listened to you. Or that you can actually go cast a ballot and your votes actually count. So I’m just trying to educate."
On Monday, additional body camera footage from two of the now-former officers involved in Floyd's murder was leaked to the Daily Mail.
James intends to watch it as soon as he can.
And he will continue to use his influence to fight racism as he tries to lead the Lakers to their first championship since 2010
"I tried to be as great as I could be today both on and off the floor," he said.