But for many people, the game on the court was overshadowed by months of protests for Black lives and injustice happening outside the bubble. At one point, the games even came to a halt.
“I think the bubble helped guys get their message across,” Lakers star forward Anthony Davis told Yahoo News in a phone interview. Davis recently signed a five-year, $190 million maximum contract to stay with the team through the 2024-25 season.
“Especially when we were the only thing on TV, people got a chance to hear that … we demand change,” he added. “Guys are going to continue to fight for what is right, and I’m pretty sure you’ll just start seeing that more and more as the season goes on, where guys will get that platform back for them to be heard.”
The Lakers’ season restarts on Tuesday night as they meet their crosstown rival the Los Angeles Clippers in a quest to win back-to-back championships.
Davis is also staying busy off the court. On Tuesday he launched a holiday initiative with eBay called Santa Sneaker Drop, in which Davis helps sneaker lovers get some of the most exclusive kicks online using augmented reality (AR) technology instead of standing in long lines.
“I just thought it was so dope, especially the times that we’re living in right now with COVID when we can’t physically go out,” Davis said. “I understand how the sneakerheads get frustrated when they miss out on a sneaker, waiting in line for several hours, even days sometimes, and not being able to get your favorite sneaker.”
Using AR, sneakerheads can participate in the drop from anywhere using their camera to open a virtual box that comes down the chimney to see if they’ve snagged a pair. Everyone gets five chances per day for three days, ending just before midnight on Dec. 24.
Soon Davis hopes to have his own signature sneaker, the realization, he said, of “a dream come true.”
In addition to the virtual sneaker drop, Davis is teaming up with eBay to give away 40,000 pairs of shoes to homeless kids in the U.S. through Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that turns “unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity.”
“For most kids, having the right sneakers to wear for a game of pickup basketball is a given,” said Buddy Teaster, president and CEO of Soles4Souls. “But that’s not the case when families are struggling with homelessness. We believe every kid deserves to have their basic needs met, including a pair of shoes on their feet. This donation couldn’t come at a better time, and a superstar like Anthony Davis brings a whole new level of awareness to our program.”
“For the kids around the country, especially a lot of kids in my hometown of Chicago and where I’m playing in L.A. right now, [it’s important] to help give the kids something to look forward to,” Davis added. “A lot of kids love sneakers, and to be able to get a pair of sneakers that you always want, it’s pretty dope.”
Ultimately, Davis looks to inspire youth — both on the court and off — because he believes the next generation will continue to lead the movement toward social justice.
“I keep touching the youth because the youth is what can help us create this change,” Davis said. “They’re so young. The world is theirs.”
Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images, Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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