"It's time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change," said LeBron James
[BRIGHTCOVE “21018438” “” “peoplenow” “auto” ]The 2016 ESPY Awards opened with a powerful Black Lives Matter message from four of the biggest names in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took the stage on Wednesday to spread a message of love and acceptance during a week riddled with gun violence and fear – including the shooting of 12 police officers at a Dallas Black Lives Matter march and the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
Anthony, a forward on the New York Knicks, opened with a statement on behalf of Paul, Wade and James.
“The four of us we cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America,” he said. “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. But the problems are not new, the violence is not new and the racial divide definitely is not new.”
He adds, “But the urgency for change is at an all time high.”
Wade of the Miami Heat begged for racial profiling to end.
“Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop but also the retaliation has to stop. The needless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando it has to stop, enough. Enough is enough,” the basketball star said. “Now as athletes it’s on us to challenge each other to do even more than we already do in our cow communities. The conversation cannot stop as our schedules get busy again. It wont always be convenient, it won’t. It won’t always be comfortable but it is necessary.”
James, Wade’s former teammate on the Heat and a current free-agent, argued that feeling “helpless and frustrated by the violence” is not acceptable. And he used his time on stage to ask viewers to consider a call to action.
“It’s time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change I know tonight we are honoring Muhammad Al,i the ‘G.O.A.T.’ but to do his legacy any justice let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athlete to educate ourselves, explore 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,” James, born in Akron, Ohio, said. “We all have to do better.”
And Paul, a guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, says he has a nephew who is a police officer.
“[My nephew] is one of the hundreds of thousands of great officers serving this country. But Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile.. this is also our reality,” he says, naming the victims of brutal shootings. “Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommy smith. Abdul-Karim al-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 stand in their footsteps.”
In Steph Curry’s acceptance speech for the record-breaking performance award, he thanked his fellow NBA stars for their opening words.
“That’s what sports is all about… thanks for what you do,” the Golden State Warriors player said.