Barack Obama praises LeBron James for 'living up to hype,' leading in social justice causes

Cassandra Negley
·3-min read

Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States, congratulated LeBron James for “living up to the hype” and working to create lasting change off the court following his NBA Finals victory.

James and the Los Angeles Lakers won the franchise’s 17th title on Sunday night and the first since 2010. It was the fourth title and fourth Finals MVP award for James over his 17-year career. He is now the first NBA player to win the award with three different franchises (Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and the Lakers).

Obama proud of James for titles, justice work

James visited Obama at the White House after his Heat and Cavaliers teams won the championship. The two have reportedly spoken this summer during the bubble season.

Obama wrote on Twitter:

“Proud of my friend LeBron James for his fourth title, fourth Finals MVP, and for not only living up to the hype after seventeen seasons, but surpassing it as an extraordinary leader both on the court and in the public arena fighting for education, social justice, and our democracy.”

James nearly averaged a triple-double throughout the Finals series and put up 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the clinching Game 6 win.

He has been vocal in his calls for social justice while in the bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and said this week players won’t stop fighting for reform.

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Farther away from the courts at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, his More Than a Vote initiative is urging citizens to register, learn about voter suppression and make a plan to get to the polls. The students from his I Promise School, which he founded two years ago in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, are exceeding expectations. They’re also beside him on the special edition Wheaties cereal box out this month.

Obama praises NBA, WNBA for using platforms

LeBron James in a suit and tie next to Barack Obama at the president's podium in the White House.
Barack Obama congratulated LeBron James for his fourth NBA title, but also his work off the court. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

Immediately after Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Obama praised the league and the WNBA for using their heightened platforms from their respective bubbles to raise awareness about racial justice.

The WNBA concluded its season from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, earlier last week when the Seattle Storm swept the Las Vegas Aces in the Finals. It was the fourth title for 17-year veteran Sue Bird, who was also shouted out by James after the trophy was clinched.

The NBA and WNBA used their seasons to focus on racial justice and encourage fans to get out and vote. After Jacob Blake’s killing, teams walked off the court and took a day of reflection. Obama praised the move and reportedly spoke with James, Chris Paul and other players to encourage them in resuming the season.

Players in the NBA wore phrases for justice on their jerseys while WNBA players all wore the name of Breonna Taylor. The courts said “Black Lives Matter” and players used media availabilities to speak about victims of police violence and the issue of voting.

Many arenas are being used as voting precincts, including State Farm Arena in Atlanta. It was the first day of early voting in Georgia on Monday and though there was a temporary technology issue, the size of the precinct kept it from becoming a larger concern.

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