Lakers Offering More Than Words in Effort to Heal Los Angeles’ Racial Divide

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — The cops, with their natty reversible "LAPD" jerseys worn with the white on the outside, started warming up at the east basket. A group of men aged 16-25 from the inner city, with no uniforms but so many Jordans and Kobes to make up the flat-out superior sneaker gear, started warming up at the west basket.

On this rare rain-soaked Southern California Saturday afternoon, the Lakers had invited members of the Los Angeles Police Department to play basketball in their gym against the young men from South Central L.A.

It was the third time in November the Lakers had opened their practice facility for this type of meeting. And it was proof that the NBA is taking action on an issue its officials and players like-mindedly wanted their league to lead.   

Delivering more than just preachy, wishful words.

Actually doing something.

But positive developments are not the same lightning rods as violent tragedies.

People staying alive do not make the same headlines as people being killed.

So what difference could this really make?

Lakers forward Tarik Black addresses the group. The youths half-jokingly ask for the Mercedes-Benz key dangling from Black's hand. He indulges them with idle hoops chitchat in a language they know well.

"The person who talks the most cash money [is] usually the worst guy on the floor, though," Black says with a smile.

Black then explains that he's from one of the original neighborhoods with an epic racial divide, North Memphis. So he knows all about being stigmatized as a black kid with all these tattoos...except now he has his bachelor's degree, plus a master's degree in African-American studies. He's also pursuing his real estate license, all while making seven figures in the NBA.

Black, 25, notes something else: "My first coach—my first mentor—was a police officer."
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers