LeBron James won’t join San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling during the national anthem before NBA games, the Cleveland Cavaliers star said Monday at the team’s first media session of the season. But James did speak out against recent police killings that have amplified Kaepernick’s protests, saying that they have created a “scary-ass situation” for those who, like him, are parents of young black children.
“My personal feelings is that I got a 12-year-old son, a 9-year-old son, a 2-year-old daughter, and I look at my son being four years removed from being able to drive his own car, being able to leave the house on his own,” James said. “It’s a scary thought right now to think, if my son gets pulled over, and you tell your kids, if you just comply, if you just listen to the police that they’ll be respectful and things will work itself out.”
“And you see these videos that continue to come out,” he continued. “It’s a scary-ass situation ― that if my son calls me and says he’s been pulled over, that I’m not that confident that things are going to go well and my son is going to return home.”
Watch James’ comments on police brutality:
James and fellow NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade took the stage before the ESPY Awards in July to speak out against police violence. James said Monday that while he plans to stand for the national anthem, he is happy Kaepernick and other NFL players who have joined the protests have continued pushing the conversation.
“I don’t have the answer, none of us have the answer,” James said. “But the more times that we can talk about it, the more times we can conversate about it. Because I’m not up here saying that all police are bad, because they’re not. I’m not up here saying all kids are great and all adults are great, because they’re not.”
“But at the same time, all lives do matter,” he said. “It’s not black or white, it’s not that. It’s everybody. But it’s tough being a parent right now, when you have a pre-teen. But the conversation has continued from the ESPYs speech that myself, CP, D-Wade and Melo had, and that’s definitely a good thing.”
James has spoken out against police killings of African-Americans in the past, too. He was among the NBA players to wear “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups in 2014, after a New York police officer killed Eric Garner in Staten Island. James posted images referencing the police shooting death of Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown in 2014, and he, Wade and their then-Miami Heat teammates, posed in hoodies after the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012.
The NBA and its players’ union said in a statement last week that they anticipated players would bring Kaepernick’s protest to the basketball court, and other NBA players and coaches spoke out about the issue during media sessions on Monday.
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry struck a similar tone as James, saying the killings made him nervous to be a parent.
“Me having two younger black kids, making sure people are aware that me growing up, definitely getting pulled over was a scary thing, and definitely was a nervous thing,” Lowry said, the Toronto Star reported. “I think now we have to use our voices.”
Lowry’s teammate DeMar DeRozan said he will likely protest.
“I had a close friend of mine a couple of weeks ago who was murdered by the police, shot 17 times,” DeRozan said, via the Star. “It was something I haven’t spoke out about. It was more so of just understanding what’s going on in our society and how much I can help. And that’s what it’s all about. So most definitely I think we will, and I will (protest), for sure.”
Stephen Curry, who has backed Kaepernick’s protests, reiterated that stance while saying he would stand for the anthem before Golden State Warriors games this season.
At the Knicks media day, Anthony said his team would act collectively to address police brutality. John Wall similarly said his Washington Wizards would “talk as a team, as a group, and figure out what we want to do.”
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, meanwhile, said he would respect any of his players’ decision to protest during the anthem if they chose to.
“My players are engaged citizens who are fully capable of understanding what their values are, and what they think is appropriate and inappropriate, and what they feel strongly about,” Popovich said. “Whatever actions may or may not be taken are their decisions, and I’m not going to tell anyone ahead of time that if they don’t do A, B and C, they’re going to be gone or traded. I think that’s ignorant.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young has previously said that he has considered kneeling during the anthem once the season begins.