Four NBA superstars opened tonight’s ESPYs on a solemn note, addressing Black Lives Matter protests and police shootings in recent weeks.
“We cannot ignore the realities of the current state of America,” New York Knicks player Carmelo Anthony said alongside Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. “The events of the past week have put a spotlight on injustice, distrust and anger that plague so many of us. The system is broken.”
Paul, of the Los Angeles Clippers, revealed he is the nephew of a police officer. “But Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Laquan McDonald, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile — this is also our reality,” he said, referencing recent high-profile cases of black men who have been killed by law enforcement.
“The racial profiling has to stop,” said Wade, who recently left the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls. “The shoot-to-kill mentality has to stop. Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop. But also the retaliation has to stop. The endless gun violence in places like Chicago, Dallas, not to mention Orlando — it has to stop. Enough. Enough is enough.”
We all feel frustrated and helpless by the violence,” said James, of the Cleveland Cavaliers. “We do. That’s not acceptable, 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. Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, but to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action for all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence … We all have to do better.”
Watch the video above.