The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers played at Capital One Arena, LeBron James left a lasting impression by scoring 57 points against the Washington Wizards. On Sunday, James made an impression as soon as he stepped on the floor.
James wore one black sneaker and one white sneaker, with both featuring the word “EQUALITY” stitched in gold across the back of the shoe, in an apparent ode to racial harmony.
The look was hard to miss, with James and the Cavs wearing all-white uniforms that contrasted with the Wizards’ navy blue uniforms.
“We all know where we are right now, and we know who is at the helm here,” James said when asked about his choice of footwear after the Cavaliers’ 106-99 win. “Us as Americans, no matter the skin color, no matter the race, no matter who you are, I think we all have to understand that having equal rights and being able to stand for something and speak for something and keeping the conversation going [is important].
“Obviously, I’ve been very outspoken and well-spoken about the situation that’s going on at the helm here, and we’re not going to let one person dictate us, us as Americans, how beautiful and how powerful we are as a people. Equality is all about understanding our rights, understanding what we stand for and how powerful we are as men and women, black or white or Hispanic. It doesn’t matter your race, whatever the case may be, this is a beautiful country, and we’re never going to let one person dictate how beautiful and how powerful we are.”
James said a Nike representative hand-delivered the shoes to the Cavs’ locker room before the game, and he green-lit the concept.
James wore an all-black pair of the same sneakers — the LeBron 15 Equality PE — on opening night against the Boston Celtics. That was his response to the backlash NFL players were receiving from President Donald Trump for their peaceful pregame protests calling attention to racial injustice in the United States.
“I just wanted to keep the conversation going,” James told ESPN of his shoe choice at the time. “We know what we’re going through. We know what we went through as a nation, as a world. So I had an opportunity to use a platform for the greater good and keep the conversation going. Why not?”