As one of those who paved the way for the NBA likes of him, Magic Johnson is now demanding more from the LeBron James’ of the world..
“They have to get involved socially,” Johnson told ESPN of athletes in general and particularly those at the superstar levels of the Cleveland Cavaliers star and four-time league MVP. “They have to because it affects them, too. And it affects their families. They grew up in these same situations; they must not forget that.”
Johnson was in Toronto on Friday to attend the Giant of Africa extravaganza, a benefit organized by the Raptors to honor the late South African president Nelson Mandela. But clearly his mind was still on recent developments in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. Separate grand juries there this week decided not to indict white police officers accused of wrong-doing in the killings of two unarmed black men.
“But you see LeBron,” Johnson added. “LeBron is a great example of doing a wonderful job. When this first came out, when you think about everything that he stood up for — the Donald Sterling thing, when that mess happened, just now with these young people being shot down unarmed, he’s been right out front, so I’ve got to give him a lot of credit. If he’s out front being the best player, then the other guys usually follow the best guy.”
Earlier this week James told reporters of the Michael Brown case in Ferguson and the one involving Eric Garner in New York “it’s a sensitive subject right now. Violence is not the answer, and retaliation isn’t the solution. As a society, we just have to do better.”
James also spoke out about the recent shooting death of 12-year-old Cleveland native Tamir Rice, again at the hands of police. Cops opened fire on the boy after they observed him playing with a toy gun in a neighborhood park. His family has since filed a wrongful-death suit.
“For us to change things, we have to get people to the table that can bring about change,” Johnson said. “If it’s just talk and [African-Americans] still stay suppressed and think that people don’t care about them, then the same thing is going to happen. And so it’s going to be important that these meetings take place and we can really bring about serious change because the distrust and the disconnect is huge.”[Photo Credit: Pyrogenic]