Former President Barack Obama advised a group of NBA players led by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James to return to the court this week after a brief boycott to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake, according to a report Friday.
James reached out to Obama shortly after a tense Wednesday night meeting in which the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers informally voted to boycott the rest of the NBA playoffs, The Athletic reported. On the phone call, Obama advised James and his fellow players to detail the demands they had in order to resume play.
The players broached the possibility of forming a committee for player action with Obama’s involvement, according to the report. Other participants on the call included NBA All-Star Chris Paul, who serves as president of the National Basketball Players Association.
The status of the NBA’s season restart inside the bubble at Walt Disney World resort in Orlando was in doubt earlier this week after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the court for their game against the Orlando Magic. The NBA postponed playoff games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday and initiated meetings with players and owners to determine the league’s next steps.
Obama expressed support for the Bucks and other NBA figures who spoke out about social justice issues after Blake, a Black man, was shot several times in the back during an encounter with police in Kenosha, Wis. The shooting was caught on video and prompted days of protests.
“I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example,” Obama wrote on Twitter. “It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.”
After lengthy talks, NBA players voted to resume the season with a number of conditions in place. The NBA and players agreed to immediately form a social action committee.
In addition, team owners will convert arenas in their home markets into voting facilities for the 2020 presidential election and the NBA will create advertisements urging the public to vote in November.