Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot multiple times in the back by police as he entered an SUV in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His three children aged three, five and eight were in the car, according to a family attorney.
Footage of the shooting has emerged on social media, and James, who has passionately spoken out throughout the Black Lives Matter movement, said after the Lakers’ win against the Portland Trail Blazers that he had seen the video.
“If you’re sitting here telling me that there was no way to subdue that gentleman, or detain him, or before the firing of guns, then you’re sitting here, you’re lying to not only me, you’re lying to every African American, every Black person in the community because we see it over and over and over,” James told reporters.
“If you watch the video, there (were) multiple moments where if they wanted to they could have tackled him, they could have grabbed him. They could have done that. Why does it always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing?
“And his family is there. The kids are there. It’s in broad daylight … It’s just, quite frankly, it’s just f**ked up in our community.”
Blake is in a stable condition in an intensive care unit following the shooting. Two Wisconsin police officers have since been placed on administrative leave and the police union has urged the public to withhold judgment until “all the facts are known.”
However, protests have started in Kenosha and across the US in the wake of the incident.
On Monday, protesters gathered at the city’s courthouse and came face-to-face with police in riot gear. An armored vehicle was also on the scene and police threw gas into the crowd of protesters.
“I know people get tired of hearing me say it but we are scared as Black people in America,” James continued.
“Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified. Because you don’t know, you have no idea. You have no idea how that cop that day left the house. You don’t know if he woke up on the good side of the bed, you don’t know if he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”
‘Use my voice’
James went on to say how Monday’s game was intended as a celebration of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers great who died earlier this year.
Sunday marked Bryant’s birthday, while Monday is Kobe Bryant day – August 24 being a tribute to the numbers eight and 24 that he wore throughout his NBA career – but James said Blake’s shooting had sent his emotions “all over the place.”
“I still have a job to do because I’m here. Because I’m committed. And when I commit to something I feel like I have to come through; it’s just who I am,” he said.
“But that does not mean that I don’t see what’s going on and I won’t say anything or continue to use my platform and continue to use my voice and continue to uplift all the other athletes to let them know that they can say and do what’s right and not fear what other people’s opinions are.”
The Lakers lead the Blazers 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs in Orlando, where the two teams meet again on Wednesday. James, who is bidding to win his first NBA title since 2016, scored 30 points in Monday’s win.
The NBA has sought to bring awareness to social justice and racism in the US since the season’s restart, particularly following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor earlier this year.
Players have knelt during the National Anthem and worn Black Lives Matter t-shirts or the word “equality” on the back of their jerseys. Black Lives Matter is also written on the court.
‘This world has to change’
A number of other players also spoke out following Blake’s shooting.
“I think this world has to change,” said Milwaukee Bucks’ George Hill.
“I think our police department has to change. Us as a society has to change. Right now we’re not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken as we speak day in and day out. There’s no conseuence or accountability for it, and that’s what has to change.”
The Bucks took a 3-1 lead against the Orlando Magic on Monday, but the players, including Hill and teammate Khris Middleton, felt inclined to speak about events in Kenosha.
“I think this is why we have so many people outraged over the country,” said Middleton.
“People are starting to see why Black people, colored people, are so afraid of police. Because at any time no matter what type of position, and no matter what they did – right or wrong – their first act is to shoot us. I think that’s a very scary situation to be in when they’re supposed to protect us.”
The Bucks also released a statement saying the organization is “praying for the recovery of Jacob Blake.”
It continued: “Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the Black community.
“Our organization will continue to stand for all Black lives as we demand accountability and systemic change on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Joel Acevedo and countless other victims.
“We will work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist.”
Jill Martin contributed to this report.