James Worthy is a man of many accomplishments: He’s a three-time NBA champion, Los Angeles Lakers MVP, Hall of Famer, and Spectrum SportsNet analyst. As Black Lives Matter protests continue throughout the United States, Worthy said he feels a little bit of anger.
“I was here in 1992 when the Rodney King riots canceled one of our games at the Great Western Forum, so I’m frustrated for all the sacrifices that have been made by so many people,” he said. “We have yet to make progress necessary to create equality, and the anxiety still exists.”
Worthy said voting and filling out the 2020 census form are two ways to bring about real change in America.
“I believe that the vote is the only thing that we have, and we struggle to enroll young people and to enroll everybody into voting because they don’t believe in it, because of the gerrymandering that’s going on, the redistricting,” he said.
People lost their faith in voting when in 2016, then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, thereby handing the presidency to Donald J. Trump.
“People don’t feel incentivized to go [vote], but we have to continue to promote that, especially at the local levels, knowing people in your district. Let’s not give up on that,” Worthy said.
Worthy also advocates for improving education in America.
“Unfortunately, harassment, ‘I can't breathe,’ jogging through the neighborhood, and being beaten by eight cops on the highway have become the norm, and people are used to it not being taken care of, and they run out of hope and resources,” Worthy said. “Unfortunately, they don't have the education that my parents even had. It was the ‘50s and ‘60s.”
Worthy believes youths today value video games more than education.
“You know, my mother took Latin. We don’t have that,” he said. “All we have is frustration and no one's going to take care of me. I've been pulled over, not me personally, but a lot of men have been pulled over eight times, six times. So looting… it comes out. There's no excuse for that, no excuse for that. We’ve got to, as I said earlier, we’ve got to teach again.”
Worthy believes youths aren’t given resources at school that could change their lives.
“There was a time where you could go to school and the instruments were free. Now our kids are being denied the ability to reach for the stars,” he said. “Some people go to a band and they get a free instrument and they end up being Miles Davis or somebody.”
Worthy said protesting is beneficial if it's nonviolent and gets the attention of lawmakers. He said, however, that looting is inexcusable.
“We have to continue to educate our young people on not looting. We failed in a lot of ways, but we have to re-educate our people,” he said.
He believes that the people should be united at this time.
“So many curriculums have been taken away, and you know teenage pregnancy. There's so many issues that we've given up on that we need to talk about, and we can't be divided,” he said. “There’s been too much division, even within communities. So we’ve got to get back to the foundation. Don’t give up on that.”
In order to calm himself down, Worthy said he calls people, reminds himself that everything will be OK, and listens to Marvin Gaye.
“I go through my fears and my anxieties. I cry sometimes. But at the end, I'm always a fighter,” he said. “So I'm always looking at the light at the end of the tunnel, and I don't think it's a train. I think it's the light of the sun. We've had too many people throughout our history who made too many sacrifices, and I don't feel like I can let them down.”
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