When the NBA players protested the shooting of Jacob Blake, there was talk of ending the season. Every team opted out of playing in the first round of the playoffs for one game, but that didn’t seem like enough to LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Andre Iguodala. Barack Obama was a guest on LeBron’s show The Shop this past Friday, and he revealed the details of a call with the aforementioned players that helped get the season restarted while still vying for change.
“I think it was close to midnight when Chris, CP, calls with LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], I think Russ Westbrook was on the phone, and the conversation we had was along the lines LeBron spoke about,” Obama stated about the call. “Protest is useful in terms of raising awareness, but given the power that the NBA players had, my suggestion was that we use that platform to see if you can start asking for some specifics. This isn’t something that’s just a one-off. That’s sadly what we’ve seen, as it happens again and again. So, one of the suggestions I had for the players was: Is it possible for you guys to set up an office that allows you, on an ongoing basis, to take best practices that are going to start making incidents like [Blake] less likely?”
After the call, Chris Paul, who is the head of the players’ union, and LeBron sat down and worked with the NBA to restart the playoffs, lay down calls to action, present demands that needed to be met, and pushed for voting initiatives. “As I told them though, it’s not going to be solved overnight. This is something that we got to stay on. We got to keep on moving,” Obama continued. “So the fact that LeBron then has also been working with More Than a Vote, working with my outstanding partner and the most popular Obama, Michelle Obama, in getting people registered, getting them educated, understanding the connection between voting and reform so that you combine protest and going to the polls, I think that’s the best outcome possible.”