Photo credit: All-Pro Reels
4X NBA Champion, 4X NBA MVP & Activist
by JR Gamble
LeBron James is the greatest basketball player-businessman-activist of all time. The anointed top shotta in the CORE 100 Most Influential Blacks Today had a championship-laden 2020 in the face of social unrest and a worldwide pandemic.
In fact, he executed a Triple-Double in life as he led an all-sports boycott and global movement off the court while trying to bring that championship luster back to Tinseltown.
James did what he’s done many times and used a national platform to voice his opinions about social and racial injustice and keep the spotlight on continuing to challenge systemic racism and unprosecuted police brutality.
James was very open and expressive to reporters about exactly where he stands on the issue of preserving, saving and defending Black Lives. He also offered solutions to solving racial divisions and demanded justice for Breonna Taylor.
Bron wore #Justice4BreonnaT on his sneakers. His reaction to George Floyd’s death, asking, “Why Doesn’t America Love Us Too?” sparked outrage and unified much of the country resulting in massive protests across the globe.
“A lot of people kind of use this analogy, talking about Black Lives Matter as a movement. It’s not a movement,” James said to ESPN.
When you’re Black, it’s not a movement. It’s a lifestyle. We sit here and say it’s a movement, and, OK, how long is this movement going to last? ‘Don’t stop the movement.’ No, this is a walk of life. When you wake up and you’re Black, that is what it is. It shouldn’t be a movement. It should be a lifestyle. This is who we are.”
Disney Bubble: Headquarters For Social Justice Movement
With LeBron leading the way, the Lakers made the playoffs in 2020 for the first time since the 2012-2013 season and advanced past the first round for the first time since 2011-12, eventually winning the NBA Championship.
In one series, King James proved he has nothing more to prove, blazing a trail that may never be replicated; and he’s not finished.
James was named Finals MVP after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat with a 106-93 win in Game 6, becoming the first player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP with three different franchises.
In the pivotal Game 6 clincher, with Black Lives Matter emblazoned on the court, James finished with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists and won the Finals MVP by a unanimous 11-0 vote.
During his post-game interview, he said resoundingly, “I want my damn respect.”
Hopefully, he’s one step closer to his goal by garnering the top spot on CORE’s 100 Most Influential Blacks Today.
However, he may or may not receive his true flowers while he is still playing because the world has truly never seen anyone like LeBron.
An athletic hybrid of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, with the fearless activism of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and uncommon entrepreneurial wisdom while still playing.
James almost single-handedly took all the bullets for the NBA’s forward-thinking stance on the protest movement. Everyone from Donald Trump to Jared Kushner to the UFC’s Colby Covington berated him for keeping the Black Lives Matter movement on the front lines.
All of this comes two years after Laura Ingraham told him to “Shut Up and Dribble.”
Bron kept talking to the media and distinguished folks like Barack Obama on his award-winning HBO show “The Shop” back in October (as the Presidential Race reached intense proportions and Election Day neared).
The chosen son of Akron became the conscience of an entire league, while still promising to bring the chip home for the most beloved Laker of them all, Kobe Bryant.
Mastering The Game
LeBron’s mastered the balance of athletics, business, activism, and family. This is a hybrid that has never existed in professional basketball. His haters can’t stand the glow that radiates off him like Eriq La Salle’s Jheri curl in Coming to America.
LeBron has lived more lives in the spotlight than most have done in private.
His Time Magazine “Athlete of the Year” award and his historic Wheaties Box cover are deserving acknowledgments of his impact on society.
2020 was a year in which COVID-19, record unemployment rates, political posturing and racial unrest hurled us into historically challenging times. In these moments, certain athletes, celebrities and leaders have used their platforms to champion those whose voices aren’t being heard.
James continues to lead the NBA and other pro athletes who have been at the forefront of fighting against systemic racism, social injustice, and inequality. You can’t tell the story of LeBron James the elite athlete without mentioning his philanthropic efforts, widespread activism, film and media offerings and cultural leadership.