LeBron James on Saturday said he hoped Colin Kaepernick made “a hell of a lot of money” after the former NFL quarterback settled his lawsuit with the league Friday.
Kaepernick had accused NFL owners of colluding to keep him out of the league because of his role in sparking the player protest movement against racial injustice and police brutality during the national anthem; he has been a free agent since March 2017. The NFL agreed to settle his suit, plus another filed by defensive back Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s former teammate with the San Francisco 49ers who also demonstrated during the anthem, before they were set to go to trial. Terms were not disclosed.
James, speaking at NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, threw his support behind Kaepernick once more and declared the quarterback had “won” the lawsuit.
“It’s important to stick up for what you believe in. I stand with Kaep,” he said. “I kneel with Kaep. I feel what he was talking about, nobody wanted to listen to. Nobody ever wanted to really actually understand where he was coming from. Anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the better of all of us, I could respect that. He’s done that.
“You got a guy that basically lost his job because he wanted to stand for something that was more than just him. I’m happy to see the news come out yesterday that he won his suit. I hope it’s a hell of a lot of money that could set not only him up, set his family up, set his grandkids up for the rest of their lives. And I hope the word of what he did will live on throughout American history, but also world history, because it’s important for all of us, not only African Americans but for everybody that wants to stand up for something that’s more important than them.”
James, appearing in his 15th consecutive All-Star Game, has long supported Kaepernick. James has often made public appearances wearing items from Kaepernick’s signature line — produced by Nike, which also sponsors James — and said in 2016, when the quarterback began kneeling, that though he would always stand for the anthem, “that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing.”
James’s remarks Saturday came almost a year to the day when he clashed with Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham. After James criticized President Trump in an interview, Ingraham, in a monologue on her program, said James should “shut up and dribble” instead of talking politics. Instead, James did just the opposite. In the year since the interview, he has continued to weigh in on the Trump administration’s policies, and the phrase became the title of a Showtime documentary series created by James’s production company.
On Saturday, James said he appreciated Ingraham’s statement a year later for helping him recognize his platform to speak on social issues.
“I knew at that moment, I knew that it was bigger than basketball and I had to say something,” James said. “It wasn’t just about me. It was about all of us. It’d be like telling [the media] to ‘shut up and just write.’ You guys not having a platform. Or just shut up and be a doctor, just shut up and be a lawyer, or just shut up and be a teacher, or just shut up and do whatever your occupation is. I just think that’s unfair to all of us because we are so much more than what our occupation says or what our name tag says.
"For me to be able to have this platform as I did one year ago, and to be able to have that feeling throughout my body when I heard that, I think it’s resonated with me and with a lot of people, feeling like they can be more. I thanked her for that moment. We should all thank her. You have to appreciate anything that comes along, good or bad, because it helps you learn and get more understanding of who you are.”
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