In four months away from basketball, LeBron James played his first game since the COVID-19 pandemic paused the NBA, yet the Los Angeles Lakers marquee star wasn’t interested in talking about his skills on the court.
James used his post-game press conference to bring attention to Breonna Taylor, the EMT who was shot and killed in her sleep when cops were serving a “no-knock” warrant on March 13.
The NBA All-Star addressed the media in Orlando, Florida, where the league are playing matches, following an exhibition game against the Dallas Mavericks.
James was asked about a number of topics about the game, his playing, and usual post match topics, but he wasn’t interested in any of it. For nearly 15 minutes, James delivered an impassioned speech in hopes to bring attention to Taylor’s death and asked for justice.
"We want the cops arrested who committed that crime," James said of Taylor. "Obviously in the state of Kentucky, what’s going down there, I know a lot of people are feeling the same. And us as the NBA, and us as the players, and me as one of the leaders of this league, I want her family to know and I want the state of Kentucky to know that we feel for it and we want justice. That’s what it’s all about. What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. And this is a wrong situation that’s going on in my eyes and in a lot of other eyes."
The three-time NBA champion also questioned why not much has been done in her case.
"It’s fortunate that we had the George Floyd video to see it," James said. "I mean, is that what we need to see a video of Breonna being killed to realize how bad the situation is?"
The Lakers player also expressed how he has never been one to shy away from taking a stance on social issues, social justice, and pushing for equality.
"I never shied away from being who I am and speaking about things that not only affect me, that hit home for me, but also affect my community and affect Black people because we’ve been going through it a lot," James said. "I’ve seen a video today of a Black man inside like a Walmart or a Target or wherever trying to buy a bike for his son and the cops were called — he had a receipt and everything — and the cops were called on him and they arrested him inside the store and took him outside. It’s just heartbreaking, man. You guys don’t understand. Unless you’re a person of color, you guys don’t understand. I understand that you might feel for it. But you could never truly understand what it is to be Black in America."
Earlier in the week, Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, praised the NBA and WNBA for supporting "Black Lives Matter" and the players who have kept her daughter's name in the headlines.
“Everyone raising their voices for justice are what keeps this family going each day,” Palmer told TMZ Sports. “What is being done by the NBA and the WNBA is amazing. Now, it’s time for the attorney general to listen, to charge everyone responsible for Bree’s murder and to get overdue justice. Bree should be with us. The world was a better place with her.”
In documentation previously obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal, police were authorized to carry out a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s home on March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation on a home ten miles away. Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, were the investigation's target. Police had suspected, though, that Taylor’s home was used to receive drugs.
Authorities initially said they identified themselves despite the “no-knock” warrant. Police said the officers were “immediately” met by gunfire when they entered Taylor and Walker's home, at which point they returned fire.
Walker called 911 during the ordeal and he was informed he'd shot an officer. He was initially charged with attempted murder, but his charges were later dropped after he said he shot in self-defense thinking he and Taylor were victims of a home invasion.
In the wake of Taylor's death, the city has banned "no-knock" warrants.
In June, Officer Brett Hankison was fired from the Louisville Metro Police Department. Officer Myles Cosgrove and John Mattingly have been reassigned. None of the officers have been arrested or charged in Taylor’s death.