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Black NBA athletes call for justice, unity

ROBYN H. JIMENEZ | 7/23/2016, 3:33 p.m.
In an historic effort – reflective of their own sports heroes in the 70s – four NBA athletes took the ...
NBA basketball players from left: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James speak on stage at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater, July 13, in Los Angeles. Chris Pizzello of Invision

The Dallas Examiner

In an historic effort – reflective of their own sports heroes in the 70s – four NBA athletes took the stage during the ESPY Awards, July 13, to address the recent incidents of race-driven violence across the country. The four men stood united, speaking one after the other, as one voice.

“Good evening. Tonight is a celebration of sports, celebrating our accomplishments and our victories,” Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks started the dialogue. “But, in this moment of celebration, we asked to start the show tonight this way — the four of us talking to our fellow athletes with the country watching. Because we cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America. The events of the past week have put a spotlight on the injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us.

“The system is broken. The problems are not new. The violence is not new. And the racial divide definitely is not new. But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high.”

Without pause, Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers stated that they stood there, accepting their rolls as fathers, sons, husbands and brothers in uniting the communities across the United States.

“… But, Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Laquan McDonald. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile. This is also our reality,” he said.

“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for. So we choose to follow in their footsteps.”

Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls demanded a change, saying that racial profiling, the shoot-to-kill mentality, not valuing those with Black and Brown skin, retaliation and gun violence must stop. “Enough,” he said sternly. “Enough is enough.

“Now, as athletes, it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our own communities. And the conversation, it cannot stop as our schedules get busy again. It won’t always be convenient. It won’t. It won’t always be comfortable, but it is necessary.”

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers concluded the message addressing the helplessness and frustration felt from the nationwide violence, then stated it was time to do better. “It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘What are we doing to create change?’ It’s not about being a role model. It’s not about our responsibility to the tradition of activism.

“I know tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali. The GOAT. But to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves. It’s for these issues. Speak up. Use our influence. And renounce all violence.

“And most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them.

“We all have to do better. Thank you.”