LeBron James: I Hope We Made Colin Kaepernick ‘Proud’ by Kneeling During Anthem

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Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, second from left, wears a Black Lives Matter shirt and kneels with teammates during the national anthem prior to an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via AP)

Mike Ehrmann/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers guard/forward LeBron James told reporters he hoped the NBA made ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick proud following pregame protests during the national anthem.

“Kap was someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable,” James said (h/t Lauren A. Jones of the Los Angeles Sentinel). “When people didn’t understand…it had absolutely nothing to do about the flag he explained that and people never listened. I did! We just thank him for sacrificing everything that he did.”

Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to protest systemic racism and police brutality during the 2016 NFL season.

As Rhiannon Walker (then of The Undefeated) noted in an aggregation of responses to Kaepernick’s actions, the quarterback received praise, severe criticism and some mixed reactions to his work in the sports world.

Ultimately, Kaepernick found himself out of NFL work following the 2016 season despite his production on a mostly moribund 49ers team (18 total touchdowns and just four interceptions in 11 games).

On Thursday, players, coaches and referees taking part in the Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers games all knelt during the anthem, with players wearing “Black Lives Matter” t-shirts.

NBA players have continued to promote the fight for social justice as they play out the remainder of the season on the league’s Walt Disney World campus near Orlando, F