Former President Barack Obama praised the Milwaukee Bucks for their decision to stage a walkout in response to the Jacob Blake shooting earlier this week.
It appears he played a hand in the players’ decision to return to the court days later, too.
Obama spoke with LeBron James, Chris Paul and a small group of players late on Wednesday night and advised them to return to the court to finish the postseason, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Following Wednesday’s player-led meeting at the NBA’s Disney World campus, a smaller group of high-profile players sought counsel from former U.S. President Barack Obama.
“As an avid basketball fan, President Obama speaks regularly with players and league officials,” Obama spokesperson Katie Hill told The New York Times’ Sopan Deb. “When asked, he was happy to provide advice on Wednesday night to a small group of NBA players seeking to leverage their immense platforms for good after their brave and inspiring strike in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting.
“They discussed establishing a social justice committee to ensure that the players’ and league’s actions this week led to sustained, meaningful engagement on criminal justice and police reform.”
Obama reportedly encouraged the players to use the remainder of the 2020 postseason to bring further attention to social justice action rather than cancel the season, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The players also raised the possibility of Obama being involved in a committee for player action, according to Charania.
Wednesday’s slate of postseason games were postponed after the police shooting of Blake in Kenosha last week. James’ Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers reportedly indicated their opposition toward continuing the 2020 playoffs.