LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – LeBron James vehemently denied inciting violence against law enforcement officers while addressing reporters following the Los Angeles Lakers game 3 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night.
“I’ve never in my 35 years ever condoned violence,” James said in a response to a question which specifically referenced last week’s challenge from L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to James that he “double” the reward to help find the lone gunman who shot two deputies Sept. 12 while they were sitting in their patrol car in Compton. Both survived.
James refused to directly address Villanueva’s challenge.
“I have zero comment on the sheriff,” James said bluntly.
“I never have (condoned violence),” the basketball legend explained. “But I also know what’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong. And I grew up in the inner city, in a Black community. What we call the hood, the ghetto, however you want to picture it. And I’ve seen a lot of counts, firsthand, of a lot of Black people, being, I guess, racially profiled because of our color. And I’ve seen it throughout my whole life.”
James had already expressed his condolences to the two wounded deputies over the weekend.
“We don’t want anyone to be injured, we don’t want anyone to be hurt,” James told reporters on Sunday following game 2 of the series. “My condolences goes out to the officers that were shot in L.A. And we want justice for that, as well as we want justice for Breonna Taylor and so on.”
James added that while he has dealt with several good officers over the years, there is a clear-cut history of police brutality direct towards African Americans in the U.S.
“And I’m not saying that all cops are bad,” James said. “Because I actually, throughout high school and things of that nature, I’m around them all the time, and they’re not all bad. But when you see the videos that’s going on, all over, not only my home town, but all over America, you continue to see the acts of violence towards my kind, I can’t do nothing but speak about it, and see the common denominator.
“But not one time have I ever said, ‘let’s act violence towards cops.’”
James has been outspoken about racial justice in the wake of several high-profile police shootings of Black people in recent months.
Last month, James and the rest of his Laker teammates wore altered Make America Great Again hats. The hats had the words “Great Again” crossed out, instead reading “Make America arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”
In early August, James responded to comments by President Donald Trump in which the president said he turns off games when he sees athletes kneeling for the national anthem.
“I really don’t think the basketball community are sad about losing his viewership,” James said.