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A group of NBA players including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James reached out to former President Barack Obama for advice on their racial justice protests.
Obama spoke to them about setting up a “social justice committee” and reportedly advised them to get back on the court and resume the playoffs, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. James and his fellow players apparently reached out to the former president following a tense meeting this week when the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers decided to boycott the rest of the NBA playoffs.
“As an avid basketball fan, President Obama speaks regularly with players and league officials,” Katie Hill, a spokesperson for Obama, told The Hill.
“When asked, he was happy to provide advice on Wednesday night to a small group of NBA players seeking to leverage their immense platforms for good after their brave and inspiring strike in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting,” Hill said.
“They discussed establishing a social justice committee to ensure that the players’ and league’s actions this week led to sustained, meaningful engagement on criminal justice and police reform,” she added.
Obama reportedly told those on the call, which purportedly included Chris Paul, to resume play and “utilize the opportunity to contextualize action they want in order to play,” according to Charania.
The former president had commended the Milwaukee Bucks earlier in the week “for standing up for what they believe in” when they staged a walkout on Wednesday to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Obama tweeted out his support along with a video clip of an interview of Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values. pic.twitter.com/rUGETgAt7P
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 27, 2020
NBA players voted to resume the season on Thursday and decided to form a social action committee as well as pushing advertising efforts aimed at getting people to vote. Team owners agreed to work on getting local arenas set up to be used as polling places for November’s elections.
Full release from the NBA and NBPA: Social justice coalition being formed; team governors working to convert all arenas into location for 2020 general election; advertisement spots to promote civic engagement and awareness. pic.twitter.com/piU3gmOxgh
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 28, 2020
The move to create the polling locations seems to have inadvertently provided President Trump with a victory as he has opposed the Democrats push for mail-in voting citing their fears over the coronavirus.
Good! No need for mail in voting 😎
— RMF86 (@RMF3884) August 28, 2020
Social media users mocked the outcome of the call to Obama, who many suggested really just wanted to get back to watching the playoffs.
Barack just wanted to watch ball lmfaooooooo
— Championship Chuck (@DrYoungmoney) August 28, 2020
He did it again. 2009/2010, 2020 primary, the nba strike. He’s a one man progressive movement wrecking ball. https://t.co/VGKfRoayLn
— Calico Jack (@JanissaryJones) August 28, 2020
Should have called Jared Kushner. https://t.co/zfuiLEAGSB
— Cian (@Cianaf) August 28, 2020
No basketball would be bad for the former president’s bracket
— James Morrison, CAIA (@ShamanDionysus) August 28, 2020
— Anti-Establishment🔥 (@ChrisFrancis54) August 29, 2020
I’m not surprised this man did nothing remember BLM started under him he’s an elitist who doesn’t have anything in common with Black Americans🤦🏾♀️
— Stacy 🇺🇸 (@STACSGIBUDDHIST) August 29, 2020
lmfao Obama is going to spend the rest of his life working as hard as possible to prevent positive change
— Pure Malarkey (@puremalarkey) August 28, 2020
big surprise that Obama guided them to “say something, but do nothing. Don’t rock the boat too much”
— bob (@toonhound) August 29, 2020
LeBron sees big picture- can’t ruin season for China fans and their income stream from there.
— Cody (@cody_washburn) August 28, 2020
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