NBA icon LeBron James has been criticized after speaking out on the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, describing a ruling that the officer involved could have been acting in self-defense as a blow to the heart and to the gut".
In emotional post-game remarks, James said he was "smart" enough to see that events in the world made basketball unimportant and claimed that a prosecutor's ruling in Kenosha, where it was decided that a police officer would not be charged for shooting Jacob Blake this summer, was bad news for "every black person".
Blake, who is black, was paralyzed after being shot in the back by Rusten Sheskey, a white police officer who said he had acted in self-defense because he feared that Blake would stab him - a contention that Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley could not disprove.
"To hear what happened in Kenosha today was a blow to the heart and to the gut," James said after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 94-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
When did LeBron get his law degree— Mark (@R_LeeErmey) January 6, 2021
“Blow to the heart and to the gut.” Sounds like Lebron is pretty distraught from this. I’m sure he cried all the way home in his Lamborghini.— MANTIS TOBOGGAN (MD) (@daddytoboggan) January 6, 2021
"Not only to that community, but to us and to every black person that has been a part of this process, seeing these outcomes for so long.
"I'm smart enough to know that even though we are playing a game of basketball, there's so much more going on in the world."
James's words were questioned by many viewers, with some asking when the forward had become an expert in law and pointing to his perceived lack of action over human rights in China, which is a key market for sales of his shoes.
"It’s really sad what the NBA has turned into," said one fan. "I’ve been watching for 40 years, love the game. But they’re killing it for me."
Another sarcastically shot back: "Sounds like Lebron is pretty distraught from this. I’m sure he cried all the way home in his Lamborghini."
No surprise, did LeBron even watch the video or just repeat talking points— Apollo SpaceX (@HeroOfApollo) January 6, 2021
Maybe standing up to China is on his schedule for tomorrow?— Matt Berry (@GolferMatt23) January 6, 2021
You have lost your mind. The man was seconds away from stabbing a police officer— Brady Kranzusch (@BradyK_16) January 6, 2021
In Wisconsin, where Blake was shotte, the Marquette team wore black uniforms to protest the decision, and the Milwaukee Bucks, who share the Fiserv Forum with Marquette, sat out a first-round playoff game in August to show their feelings.
"We were going to wear the black uniforms regardless of the situation, whether [Sheskey] got charged or not," Marquette guard Koby McEwen said after the Golden Eagles' 65-54 loss.
"If he got charged, it was support of it. If justice wasn't served, it was in protest."
A statement from Marquette said they were "extremely disappointed" and would "continue to use our platform to advocate and fight for racial justice."
"This is another reminder that just because racial and social injustice hasn't received as much attention recently, doesn't mean the need to fight against it has gone away," they claimed.
Police have the right to protect their own lives. Period.— M.T. Pockets (@Hammer_To_You) January 6, 2021
LeBron, I love your courageous compassion 🙏🏾— Milagro1 (@Milagro35164688) January 6, 2021
@KingJames is a total douche and a idiot ! He loves playing the victim while he lives in a million dollar home . 🙄🙄— Tristan Barras (@barras_tristan) January 6, 2021
The Bucks did not comment specifically on the decision but said that they remained "firmly against excessive use of force by law enforcement."
"This past year shed light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American and other marginalized communities," they declared.
"Reoccurring instances of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community must stop.
"As an organization, we remain strongly committed to address issues of social injustice and anti-racism and to make meaningful change for African Americans and all marginalized members of our community."
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