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LeBron James on Breonna Taylor: ‘We want the cops arrested who committed that crime’

Lakers forwards Anthony Davis and LeBron James watch the Lakers play a game from the bench earlier this season.
Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James spoke at length after their scrimmage Thursday about justice in the killing of Breonna Taylor and social reform moving forward.
(Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)

LeBron James opened his news conference following Thursday night’s scrimmage against Dallas with a message that’s been heard throughout the NBA.

“I want to continue to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor and to her family and everything that’s going on with that situation,” James said in response to a question about the game. The Lakers star followed with a brief answer to the question and talked about improvement as a team.

Then James was asked what the next steps are in Taylor’s case.

“We want the cops arrested who committed that crime,” he said.

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For 15 minutes after the game, James spoke about Taylor, racism in America and his experience growing up as a Black man. These are topics James has addressed before, and Anthony Davis and coach Frank Vogel also spoke about Taylor and racism after the scrimmage. But James has the loudest megaphone, and he used the moment to amplify it.

“When he speaks the whole world listens,” Davis said of his fellow All-Star.

James often plays games with the names of his children, wife or mother written on his shoes. On Thursday night he had Taylor’s name on them. He has made similar gestures in the past, dating to the death of Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old killed by an armed neighborhood watch volunteer near Orlando in 2012.

“Never afraid to speak about things that I was knowledgeable about, that I had insight on and that I was up to speed on,” James said. “With the Trayvon Martin case that was obviously years ago, with that situation I spoke about that ... The George Floyd incident that happened not too long ago, that’s a horrible incident. And obviously the Breonna Taylor situation.

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“It’s unfortunate that — well, it’s fortunate that we had the George Floyd video to see it. I mean, is that what we need, to see a video of Breonna being killed for people to realize how bad the situation is?”

Taylor was a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed when Louisville, Ky., police entered her home while she slept to enforce a “no-knock” warrant related to a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found. Her boyfriend, believing there were intruders entering the home, fired a gun and police fired several rounds, killing Taylor. None of the officers have been charged.

The Lakers brought their usual energy in a 108-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis playing only in the first half.

James said he hoped that bringing players together in Orlando and having stars speak out about Taylor and racism will encourage more players to feel comfortable being vocal.

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And, James said, although he appreciates the NBA’s efforts to promote social justice, he doesn’t like the discussion of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” as if it is a finite movement.

“When you wake up and you’re Black, that is what it is,” he said. “It shouldn’t be a movement. It should be a lifestyle. This is who we are. And we understand that and we know that for one step that someone else might have to take, or for one yard someone else may have to take, we know we got to take five more steps. We know we got to take 10 more yards to get to the end zone. I mean, we understand that. We know that. But it’s also what makes us as strong, it makes us as powerful, it makes us so unique and unified is that we done had so much hardships in our life — either from personal experiences or loved ones or reading history or seeing videos, Rodney King, or just being a part of just the communities that you’re in, where you’re just racially profiled from the time you come out of the womb.

“… I don’t like the word ‘movement’ because, unfortunately, in America and in society, there ain’t been no damn movement for us. There ain’t been no movement.”

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In addition to words, James has taken action for causes he feels are important, which includes starting a voting rights organization this summer. More Than A Vote will donate more than $100,000 to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s fines and fees fund to help people with felony convictions become eligible to vote this fall, the organization announced Friday.

Florida residents voted to allow most people with felony convictions to vote, but the state said they could do so only if they had repaid all of their fines and fees first. A federal judge called the fines and fees provision an unconstitutional poll tax, but another judge stayed that order on appeal. That left it unclear whether or not people with felony records would be eligible to vote this fall unless they’d paid their outstanding fines and fees.


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