NBA

A blow to the heart and the gut: LeBron James and fellow Lakers stars speak out after Jacob Blake ruling

By Sports Desk January 06, 2021

LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers team-mates were left disheartened upon hearing Kenosha County District Attorney announced no charges are to be filed against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a black man who was left paralysed.

Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on August 23 last year as he leaned into his car in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In response, several professional sports teams refused to play scheduled matches and, in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

That subsequently led to all NBA games on August 26 being postponed, while there were further boycotts in Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

Many NBA stars, including James, were vocal from the Orlando bubble in their campaigning against racial injustice, and several Lakers players expressed their dismay following Tuesday's confirmation none of the officers at the scene will face criminal charges.

Speaking after the Lakers' 94-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, James said: "To hear what happened in Kenosha today was a blow to the heart and to the gut, not only to that community but to us and to every, I guess, black person that has been a part of this process and seeing these outcomes for so long.

"And not only in the black community but in the white community as well, who see moments like this happen to us, to happen to his family, to happen to [Blake] himself. But we've got to continue to stay strong, continue to believe in each other and continue to push for the greater change and the greater good."

Wesley Matthews, now at the Lakers, was a part of the Bucks side that refused to play against the Magic back in August and was left similarly frustrated by the latest developments but urged the public to not lose heart.

"Truly, it's disheartening," he added. "It's just about right and wrong, but it can't deter those citizens who are trying to do right, who are trying to fight for equality, who are trying to fight for the right things.

"It can't deter us, we can't lose our heads, we can't start rioting, we have to be calculated, we have to continue to keep our foot on the pedal, we have to continue to keep our foot on the gas.

"These are lives right here. It's upsetting as a Wisconsinite. It's upsetting as a human being that justice isn't justice. It's tough. But it can't knock us off our path that we're trying to get to, which is equality and just simply right and wrong."

Anthony Davis said he was left with a sense of failure but will "continue to push the needle for change".

"Obviously it sucks, we as a community try to support the family and try to do everything we can to get justice for him, for that to happen, it sucks," he said. "It's like we let the family down. We continue to honour Jacob Blake and his family, we continue to push the needle for change, it's not going to stop us by playing basketball."

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