LeBron James Says 'Not Only Black People' Deal with Racism in the U.S.

LeBron James has warned complacency poses a major threat to the fight against racial discrimination and insisted racism wasn't an issue limited to the Black community.

The four-time MVP has been vocal in his criticism of police brutality and racial profiling and has long been an outspoken campaigner for social change.

On Thursday night, as the NBA season resumed after a four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, James joined his Los Angeles Lakers teammates and coaches in kneeling during the national anthem ahead of their game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Clippers players and coaches reciprocate the gesture, with similar scenes unfolding ahead of Thursday's first game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Utah Jazz.

Every player on the four teams wore a T-shirt carrying a "Black Lives Matter" motto. The movement returned to prominence after George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on 25 and has been publicly backed by several players across the major U.S. leagues, including the NBA and the NFL.

Speaking after the Lakers' 103-101 win over the Clippers, James acknowledged the fight against racism had made major strides over the last three months, but warned there were major challenges ahead.

"There's been progress. But in the past when we've seen progress we've let our foot off the gas a little bit," he said.

"We can't do that. We want to continue to keep our foot on the gas, continue to push forward. Continue to spread love throughout America."

The three-time NBA champion then elaborated on his message further and was eager to stress the issue of racism in the U.S. was not one-way traffic, but encompassed different communities.

"We're dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality," he explained.

"Not only in my neighborhoods, not only with Black people and people of color. It's something that we want to continue have people's ears open to. We have ears now, but we cannot stop. Let's have our foot on the gas like we've been doing the last few months."

James then addressed his decision to raise his fist above his head as he knelt during the national anthem.

"If you're going to look at any of my side motions or whatever the case may be, social media, I've been putting it out as well. Just having that commitment to the Black community, having my fists up in the air," he said.

"I understand how unified—the Black community, not only in my hometown, but all over the world I hope we are, I want us to become and want us to be heard."

Following Floyd's killing, several NBA players have been vocal in demanding social changes and calling for an end to racial discrimination. Acknowledging the current circumstances, the league has opted not to enact its rule requiring players to stand during the anthem and has given them the opportunity to wear a social justice message on their jerseys.

The NBA and the NBA Players Association have agreed on a list of 29 slogans—which include Black Lives Matter, I Can't Breathe, Power to the People and Anti-Racist—which players will be allowed to wear a social justice message for the first four days of the resumption.

After that, the social justice message can still feature on the back of the players' jerseys, but the players' names have to be displayed beneath them.

Along with Lakers' teammate Anthony Davis, however, James is among the players who have opted against sporting a social justice message.

Speaking earlier this month, the four-time MVP explained he had taken the decision as the messages jointly agreed upon by the NBA and the NBPA did not align with his plans.

"I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It's just something that didn't really seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal," he said.

"I'm absolutely OK with that.... I don't need to have something on the back of my jersey for people to understand my mission or know what I'm about and what I'm here to do."

LeBron James, NBA, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers takes to the court prior to the game against the LA Clippers at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on July 30 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mike Ehrmann/Getty