OAKLAND, Calif. – LeBron James took an impassioned stand against racism on Wednesday, speaking out on the eve of the NBA Finals hours after his Los Angeles home was targeted in a racist attack.
“As I sit here on the eve of one of the greatest sporting events that we have in sports, race and what’s going on (in America) comes again,” James, who will lead the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, told the media at Oracle Arena.
James’ property was vandalized early Wednesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Police Department, with a racist slur aimed at the three-time NBA champion daubed on the gate of the estate. The 32-year-old lives in Akron, Ohio, during the NBA season, but purchased the L.A. residence for $20.9 million in 2015, according to public records.
“If this is to shed a light and to keep the conversation going on my behalf then I’m OK with it,” James added. “My family is safe and that’s the most important thing. It just goes to show racism will always be part of the world, part of America. Hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living every day.
“No matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. We have a long way to go … until we feel equal.”
James has regularly used his fame to speak out on social issues, most recently when Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones was the subject of racial abuse from Boston Red Sox fans during a game at Fenway Park.
In December 2014, he wore a T-shirt with the words “I Can’t Breathe” emblazoned upon it, echoing the words of Eric Garner, a New York man who died after a confrontation with a police officer.
Earlier that year, he spoke out against disgraced former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and, according to National Basketball Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr., was prepared to lead a player boycott if Sterling had been allowed to keep his stake.
“The most unfortunate part is that I’m here right now,” James said. “I can’t be home to see my boys. I won’t be home until nest week, it is kind of killing me right now.
“I will be focused tomorrow on my game plan and these games but also know this, I am at a point where my priorities are in place and basketball comes second to my family. Basketball is not the most important thing in my life.”