LeBron James and the Lakers, along with the Clippers, voted to leave the bubble then walked out of a tense meeting the night the Milwaukee Bucks led wildcat strikes inside the bubble that almost ended the NBA restart. Players were frustrated after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, and they wanted to act.
Then LeBron, Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala, and others got on a call with former president Barack Obama — a discussion Obama discussed on a new episode of LeBron’s barbershop talk show “The Shop,” which aired Friday on HBO.
“Protest is useful in terms of raising awareness, but given the power that the NBA players had, my suggestion was that we use that platform to see if you can start asking for some specifics. This isn’t something that’s just a one-off. That’s sadly what we’ve seen, as it happens again and again.
“So, one of the suggestions I had for the players was: Is it possible for you guys to set up an office that allows you, on an ongoing basis, to take best practices that are going to start making incidents like [the Blake shooting] less likely?”
A couple of days later, the NBA and players’ union announced they would form a social justice coalition, one that would promote voting, push for police reform, and work on other social justice issues. With that in place, play resumed in the bubble.
“I told them, it’s not going to be solved overnight. This is something that we got to stay on. We got to keep on moving. So the fact that LeBron then has also been working with More Than a Vote, working with my outstanding partner and the most popular Obama, Michelle Obama, in getting people registered, getting them educated, understanding the connection between voting and reform so that you combine protest and going to the polls, I think that’s the best outcome possible.”
LeBron and the players union are in another negotiation now, one about the starting date and financial structure of next season.