As they paid tribute to Kobe Bryant by wearing their Black Mamba uniform set for the first time since 2017, the Los Angeles Lakers had plenty of emotional fuel for their Game 4 matchup.
They came out and dominated the Blazers from the opening tip en route to a 135-115 victory.
With 30 points and 10 assists in just 28 minutes of action, LeBron James led the way as he looks to be fully rounding into his usual playoff self in Orlando. After the game, James wasn’t wanting to discourse about basketball, as he noted the Lakers were playing with a dreadful lot going through their minds, both in honoring Kobe and Gigi Bryant and in thinking about the latest tragic shooting of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Extremely blessed and honored to play on 8/24 and continue to remember Kobe Bryant and Gigi Bryant and all of the fallen people who were a part of that tragic incident. And then at the same time having the emotions of what’s going on and what happened outside of Milwaukee to James Blake — Jacob Blake, sorry, Jacob Blake.
“It’s what we’ve been talking about, and what we’re going to continue to talk about. Having two boys of my own and me being an African-American in America and to continue to see what continues to happen with the police brutality towards my kind, continue to see what goes on with the just injust — it’s just very troubling. It’s very troubling. We play a beautiful game that brings so many great families together and people should be able to rejoice and enjoy it, but at the same time never losing track of what’s really going on in our world, especially here in America. My prayers go to that family, and hopefully we can have some change and it starts with November. I believe it starts with November and it’s why I stared my initiative with More Than A Vote, and getting people to understand what’s really at risk and the change — we continue to talk about change and we have an opportunity to make change. But it still doesn’t stop there, even with whoever comes next.”
Chris Paul likewise took his chance in speaking in the walkoff interview earlier in the day to speak out on the latest occurrence of police brutality caught on tape, and players from around the league voiced their continued anger, sadness, and frustration that this continues to happen and the need for drastic change to policing and systemic racism.
It is extremely disheartening to continue seeing this happen and continue seeing police shoot unarmed Black people even in what feels like an inflection point in America where there have been nationwide protests that have continued for months against police brutality.
At the same time, those continued protests offer the hope that change can come provided we remain focused on that issue and continue applying pressure to government on a local, state, and federal level — which as James said involves voting but continued work beyond that to make sure elected officials know what is important to the people.