Barack Obama looks back at crucial call that ended NBA bubble boycott
Former United States President Barack Obama recently shed some light on the crucial midnight phone call that virtually put an end to the NBA boycott in the bubble. Serving as a guest in LeBron James’ The Shop Uninterrupted program on HBO Max, Mr. Obama described how the call went down.
The boycott came after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The rest of the league followed suit, and there was a legitimate chance of the season getting cancelled from that point on.
The former commander-in-chief described how they came to a consensus during that call, which led to the resumption of the campaign:
“I think it was close to midnight when Chris, CP, calls with LeBron, Carmelo [Anthony], I think Russ Westbrook was on the phone and the conversation we had was along the lines LeBron spoke about,” Obama said of a call that also included Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala, according to sources, via ESPN’s David McMenamin. “Protest is useful in terms of raising awareness, but given the power that the NBA players had, my suggestion was that we use that platform to see if you can start asking for some specifics. This isn’t something that’s just a one-off. That’s sadly what we’ve seen, as it happens again and again.
“So, one of the suggestions I had for the players was: Is it possible for you guys to set up an office that allows you, on an ongoing basis, to take best practices that are going to start making incidents like [Blake] less likely?”
James himself admitted that he was already prepared to turn his back on the season, and that Barack Obama’s advice proved to be a key factor in their decision to play out the rest of the campaign. That proved to be a breakthrough moment for both the players and the league with regards to the fight against social injustice.