LeBron James doesn’t believe in taking a knee during the national anthem, but that doesn’t mean he thinks Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t.
The NBA star was speaking to reporters on Monday during a Cleveland Cavaliers press conference when he gave his two cents on the the San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback’s silent protest against racial inequality and police brutality in America.
“I’m all in favor of anyone, athlete or non-athlete, being able to express what they believe in, in a peaceful manner, and that’s exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing, and I respect that,” James said. “Me, standing for the national anthem is something I will do. That’s who I am. That’s what I believe in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect and don’t agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing.”
“You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion, and he’s doing it in the most peaceful way I’ve ever seen someone do something,” James continued. “What I do not like about the situation is the negative attention that has been thrown upon him from certain people, because it’s not deserved.”
“Certain people” include, most recently, former NFL coach Mike Ditka, who weighed in on the national debate this past Friday, saying during a radio interview that he has “no respect for Colin Kaepernick.”
“I think it’s a problem, anybody who disrespects this country and the flag,” Ditka said. “If they don’t like the country, they don’t like our flag, get the hell out, that’s what I think.”
“And I don’t see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on,” the former Chicago Bears coach added. “I see opportunities if people want to look for opportunities. Now, if they don’t want to look for them, then you can find problems with anything.”
Kaepernick has inspired other NFL players, including four members of the Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, and Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
James concluded: “He was very educated, very smart, very candid and very demanding about what he wanted to do, and he didn’t ask anyone else to join him. I can respect that.”