LeBron James won his fourth NBA Championship in 2020 to cap off the league’s unprecedented bubble season, but amid nationwide protests following the shooting of Jacob Blake in August, James says that the Lakers were ready to call off the season to focus on fighting for reform.

The Milwaukee Bucks sparked a pause to the NBA playoffs after boycotting a game against the Orlando Magic, leading the NBA to delay games as players and officials discussed the next steps to take. There were reports that the Clippers and Lakers wanted to end the season, but as James explained in the latest episode of The Shop, he received some crucial guidance from former President Barack Obama.

Obama advised James and other leaders in the NBA on forming a social justice committee and continuing to ask for change from owners – but also told players not to give up the platform they have when playing.

 

“When Milwaukee did what they did, and rightfully so, we understood that there was no way none of us could go on the floor. We stand as a brotherhood, we are a brotherhood in our league, and we stood with the Milwaukee Bucks and what they wanted to do – but there was a time where we were ready to leave too. The Lakers, myself included, we were ready to leave. And we were trying to figure out, if we leave or if we stay, what is our plan? What is our call for action?

And I’m lucky enough to have a friend, you know, the 44th president, that allowed me and allowed and allowed us to get on the phone with him and get guidance. You know, when there’s things going on, when there’s chaos where people don’t know which move to make or how to handle a situation, the best thing you can do is have someone that you can talk to and give you guidance and have that type of leadership. And I’m lucky enough to have a friend that gave us those words of leadership and those words of saying ‘OK, this can be plan of action. This can be something that you guys can ask for, and if we can get that then we can continue to push the needle and you guys can also continue the season as well.”

Days after the Bucks’ protest, the NBA announced a plan to form a social justice coalition, and a plan to turn arenas into voting centers.

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