LeBron James applauded former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for resolving a standoff with the league over collusion claims in a settlement announced on Friday.
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“It’s important to stick up for what you believe in. I stand with Kaep. I kneel with Kaep,” James said. “I feel what he was talking about, nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody ever wanted to really actually understand where he was coming from.
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“Anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the better of all of us, I could respect that. He’s done that. You got a guy that basically lost his job because he wanted to stand for something that was more than just him.
Colin Kaepernick kneels in protest during the national anthem prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016
“I’m happy to see the news come out yesterday that he won his suit. I hope it’s a hell of a lot of money that could set not only him up, set his family up, set his grandkids up for the rest of their lives.
“And I hope the word of what he did will live on throughout American history, but also world history, because it’s important for all of us, not only African Americans but for everybody that wants to stand up for something that’s more important than them.”
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James was swarmed by hundreds of media Saturday morning at All-Star Media Day at Bojangles Coliseum, south of downtown Charlotte, where he touched on topics ranging from social justice to his favorite pregame tunes.
Appearing Sunday in his 15th consecutive All-Star Game, James said he has realized in recent years his role includes being an outspoken advocate and voice for those who feel silenced.
James had his own media clash with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who infamously told James to “shut up and dribble” rather than share his political opinions and viewpoints. James described the overwhelming urge to stand up as a feeling that overtook his body.
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“I knew at that moment, I knew that it was bigger than basketball and I had to say something,” James said. “It wasn’t just about me. It was about all of us. It’d be like telling [the media] to shut up and just write.’
“You guys not having a platform. Or just shut up and be a doctor, just shut up and be a lawyer, or just shut up and be a teacher, or just shut up and do whatever your occupation is. I just think that’s unfair to all of us because we are so much more than what our occupation says or what our name tag says.”
Kevin Durant lays home an easy deuce
James’ All-Star Game team-mate Kevin Durant – who recently went eight days without a sitdown press conference – also said he backs Kaepernick and wants all players to be able to voice their opinions without fear of media and fan backlash.
“I think it’s good for athletes to stand up for what they believe in,” said Durant, the first player chosen by James in the captain’s draft for Sunday’s game. “A lot of people don’t agree with what Kaep is doing, but I do, and I’m going to stand behind him.”
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In 14 career ASG showings, James has let his play do the talking. His ASG averages of 24.5 points, 6.3 assists and 6.0 rebounds, including MVP honours last year, are his statement of what it means to be in the NBA’s showcase event.
He said he can’t even dream up the words to tell fans how he feels about being back, and never will take it for granted.
“For us to be here in Charlotte, I’m very appreciative of this moment. To be recognized as one of the best players in this league, voted me in as an All-Star starter, it means a lot,” James said. “It’s always an honour. I’m at a loss for words.”
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