Kyle Kuzma might be one of the younger players in the Lakers’ locker room, but he hasn’t been shy about using social media as a platform to discuss social issues others might avoid.
One of those lately has been the death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man who was killed by Sacramento police during a vandalism investigation March 18. Clark’s death has sparked protests including one that delayed the start of a Sacramento Kings game last week.
“To me, it’s something that’s kind of sad but it’s like the norm now in a way because it happens so frequently,” Kuzma said. “The way it happened is just kind of sickening because he was in his backyard in his [grandparents’] home when it happened.”
“… I think it is scary just for the simple fact that there’s no relationship to police officers, I’m not even going to say police officers, just enforcement in general in minority communities. I think minority people, they see police, they’re scared or they’re panicked a little bit and I think it’s the same way for cops too, when they come across African Americans, they’re scared. Everybody’s scared of each other.”
Kuzma is biracial and was raised by a white mother and he believes that insulated him from some issues of racial injustice he saw more as he grew older. He has a grandparent who worked in law enforcement.
Kuzma got his degree from Utah in sociology, and said racial issues were a frequent subject in school. He would like to get more involved in social justice movements in the future, but isn’t sure yet how that will manifest.
“I don’t know what type of approach to really take, but I think not just me but athletes in general they should [get involved,]” Kuzma said. “People don’t really understand how important our voices are. I think there’s a lot of athletes that don’t use their power that really should.”
Out of it
With Monday’s loss to the Pistons, the Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention. The best record they could have would be 41-41, and eight teams in the Western Conference already have at least 42 wins.
It is the fifth season in a row the Lakers have missed the playoffs, extending the franchise record.
As he recovers from a groin strain he suffered March 1, Ingram was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. It is the first time since his injury that his prognosis has been so positive.
Guard Josh Hart also did some three-on-three work. Hart has been out since April 30, when he broke his hand during a practice in Miami. Hart had targeted March 30 as his return date, based on the timetable given to him by doctors. The Lakers play the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
The Lakers will also be without Isaiah Thomas on Wednesday. Thomas experienced some hip soreness Saturday morning and missed the Lakers’ final two games of the road trip. He left the team from Detroit to evaluate treatment options in New York.
Thomas tore his labrum in his right hip last March while playing with Boston and played for two months on the injury. He played only 15 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers, to whom he was traded in August. At the time, Thomas did not have surgery.
LAKERS VS. DALLAS MAVERICKS
When: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. PDT
On Air: TV - Spectrum SportsNet, Spectrum Deportes, Radio - 710, 1330
Update: The Lakers will be home most of the rest of the season. Seven of nine are home games and their season finale is against the Clippers.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli