Advice from former President Barack Obama helped NBA athletes make their recent decision to return to the playoffs, alongside a suite of social justice initiatives from the organization, days after the Milwaukee Bucks launched an impromptu strike in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
According to ESPN, LeBron James and Chris Paul led a subcommittee of players who reached out to Obama for insight earlier this week given that negotiations around restarting the season were stalling amidst this latest viral incident of police brutality.
James, along with many of his Lakers teammates, as well as a group of LA Clippers players, voted against continuing the season, sources told ESPN. It was a moment of frustration for James in particular, sources said, because the 17-year veteran viewed the Bucks’ initial move — while well-intentioned — as lacking a plan.
Obama was in favor of returning to play once the players seized the moment to work with the league’s owners to identify and implement actionable items to effect positive change, sources told ESPN.
As we reported yesterday, the basketball season is back on and the NBA will be rolling out a number of actions agreed upon with the players association—including turning arenas where its games are played into voting centers that can be utilized in November.
In a statement on Friday, Obama’s team confirmed that players reached out to him and that as a well-known “avid basketball fan” he had advised them on how to use their platform to work towards meaningful engagement on criminal justice and police reform.
“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,” read the statement.