If not for Barack Obama, maybe the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t be holding the trophy!
The NBA continued the season in Orlando while the presidential campaign was starting to gain steam. Part of the process of spreading awareness were as follows.
- Players and coaches consistently sent the message about the importance of voting.
- The NBA relaxed the rules of making public statements and wearing T-shirts that encouraged people to vote or other social injustice messages.
- The players had the right to put messages on the back of their jerseys and shoes.
- The floor was painted with the message…Black Lives Matter.
- The biggest controversy was the players and coaches were given the choice to kneel during the National Anthem.
It almost wasn’t enough.
After Jacob Blake was shot by the police in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play their scheduled playoff game. Buoyed by Doc Rivers passionate press conference, the season stopped again to figure out the next steps. Here’s what was reported at the time.
- The NBA players, along with the Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, successfully pushed pro basketball to turn its arenas and practice facilities into voting centers.
- The negotiations and discussions between the players were heated.
- Finally, it was reported the Los Angeles Clippers were the only team that voted against finishing the season.
Just listen to what was NOT reported as LeBron James talked to Mr. Obama on his show, The Shop just before Election Day.
Yes, Lakers fans. One midnight call to Barack Obama was the catalyst of saving the NBA season. Here’s the details according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
"“I think it was close to midnight when Chris, CP, calls with LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], I think Russ Westbrook was on the phone, and the conversation we had was along the lines LeBron spoke about,” Obama said of a call that sources said also included Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala. “Protest is useful in terms of raising awareness, but given the power that the NBA players had, my suggestion was that we use that platform to see if you can start asking for some specifics. This isn’t something that’s just a one-off. That’s sadly what we’ve seen, as it happens again and again. “So, one of the suggestions I had for the players was: Is it possible for you guys to set up an office that allows you, on an ongoing basis, to take best practices that are going to start making incidents like [Blake] less likely?”"
A few days later, the season continued and eventually the Lakers won the NBA title, with LeBron winning the Finals MVP. Sure, this was on the court. What was the plan afterwards leading up to the election? Read on and see what the effects of the partnership would bring.