NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James took the stage together at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California to denounce the rampant police brutality in Black communities at the 2016 ESPYs tonight.
“The system is broken, the problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new, but the urgency for change is definitely at an all-time high,” the New York Knick’s Carmelo Anthony opens.
Then Los Angeles Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul reminds the audience that activism and sports has always gone hand-in-hand.
“Generations ago, legends like Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Billie Jean King, Arthur Ashe and countless others, they set a model for what athletes should stand for,” Paul says. “So we choose to follow in their footsteps.”
The newest member of the Chicago Bulls, Dwayne Wade, demands change:
“The racial profiling has to stop. 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.”
Finally, LeBron James closes the powerful statement of the night.
“Tonight we’re honoring Muhammad Ali, the GOAT (greatest of all time),” James adds. “But to do his legacy any justice, let’s use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes 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. We all have to do better.”