NBA star LeBron James on Thursday said the NFL still owes Colin Kaepernick an official apology for how the league responded to his kneeling protests during the national anthem.
The Los Angeles Lakers star told Bloomberg Businessweek that Kaepernick “basically sacrificed everything for the better of this world,” including his career as a professional football player.
“As far as the NFL, I’m not in those locker rooms, I’m not with those guys, but I do understand that an apology — I have not heard a true, official apology to Colin Kaepernick on what he was going through and what he was trying to tell the NFL and tell the world about why he was kneeling when he was doing that as a San Francisco 49er,” James said.
“I just see that to still be wrong. Now they are listening some, but I still think we have not heard that official apology to a man who basically sacrificed everything for the better of this world,” he added.
Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to shed light on police brutality and the treatment of African Americans in the country. Other players eventually joined him, drawing the ire of Trump and other conservatives who said the kneeling was disrespectful of the flag and the U.S. military.
Goodell has faced criticism for his handling of the protests and for not addressing Kaepernick’s situation earlier.
The commissioner this month reversed past opposition to players peacefully protesting against police brutally, admitting the league was “wrong for not listening.”
“We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black people,” Goodell said in a video statement shared on Twitter.
“We, the National Football League, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest,” he continued. “We, the National Football League, believe Black lives matter."
"Without Black players there would be no National Football League and the protests across the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of Black players, coaches, fans and staff,” he added in the video.
We, the NFL, condemn racism and the systematic oppression of Black People. We, the NFL, admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the NFL, believe Black Lives Matter. #InspireChange pic.twitter.com/ENWQP8A0sv— NFL (@NFL) June 5, 2020
The statement came after Goodell was slammed for an earlier statement responding to the death of George Floyd, a Black man whose death in Minneapolis police custody sparked nationwide protests against racism, that did not mention Kaepernick by name.
James praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for encouraging the athletes in his league to speak up about racial injustice.
“He’s given us an opportunity that when we feel something that’s very wrong with society, that’s very wrong with what’s going on in our communities, that we can speak upon that and use the NBA’s shield to back us and I have nothing but respect for Adam Silver,” James said.