As the 2016 ESPY awards aired, and the curtains opened, star NBA players Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Carmelo Anthony opened the award show with a powerful speech. All four athletes called for an end to violence in the country. As a result of the deaths of two African-American males Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, all four also made a plea for athletes to use their platforms to speak up in the wake of injustices, violence, racism, and discrimination.
This was a big step for the modern day athlete, because a majority of athletes have been silent when it comes to speaking up in the wake of violence not just against the African-American community, but all over the country and the world. Wade, Paul, Anthony, and James have been four of the most outspoken athletes when it comes to activism, charity work, and speaking out against injustices.
These players are also four of the most marketable and recognizable faces of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Anthony has been leading the charge, after the deaths of Castille and Sterling, In a New York Daily News column, Anthony said, “Point blank period. It has been this way forever. Martin Luther King marched. Malcolm X rebelled. Muhammad Ali literally thought for us. Our anger should be towards the system. If the system doesn’t change we will continue to turn on our TV’s and see the same thing.” (Daily News, pages 30-31, 7-9-16).
Anthony invoked the names of fellow athletes like Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; these athletes lost a lot of money and gained notoriety for fighting for equal rights for their people.
Anthony, James, Paul, and Wade took the first step for the modern day athlete to use their platform to speak on current events again, without fear of reprisal. Hopefully this inspires more athletes to speak up on injustices, and encourage them to make an impact not just in the cities they play for, but also in their hometowns.