LeBron James hopes the return of the NBA can "spread a lot of love throughout the world" after he scored the winning basket in the Los Angeles Lakers' victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
James followed up his own miss by being alert to grab the decisive points in a 103-101 win with 12.8 seconds to go when the season resumed in the Orlando bubble on Thursday.
Players took a knee wearing tops in support of the Black Lives Matters movement before the first NBA action since March got under way behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Four-time NBA MVP James says NBA stars can play a major part in raising spirits all over the world.
"The game of basketball has always been bigger than just a ball and a rim, 10 guys on a field and referees. It's an opportunity to use this platform to spread a lot of positivity, a lot of love throughout the world," James said in an on-court interview.
"We understand what's going on in society right now and we are using this NBA platform as players, as coaches, as organisations to continue to stand strong on that.
"This is a good start tonight, it's good to have the NBA back and I hope our fans are proud of us tonight."
Tie game. Orlando opener. Top two teams in the West.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) July 31, 2020
The King came through pic.twitter.com/i77YzyrknH
James stressed the importance of the league and players continuing to take a stand against racial inequality.
"There has been progress, but in the past when we've seen progress, we've let our foot off the gas a little bit," he said.
"We can't do that, we want to continue to keep our foot on the gas, continue to push forward, continue to spread love throughout America.
"We are dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality, not only in my neighbourhood, not only with black people, with people of colour and it's something that we want to continue to have people's ears open to.
"We have ears now, but we cannot stop putting our foot on the gas, as we've been doing for the last few months."
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