Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes had a message for the American Airlines Center crowd on Saturday.
He took the microphone before the Mavericks faced the Los Angeles Lakers, addressing the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
“His [King’s] message of equality for everyone is more important than ever,” Barnes told the crowd, who responded with a nice ovation.
Barnes and several of his teammates wore “I have a dream” shirts during warm-ups and on the bench to honor King. The front had “I HAVE A DREAM” and the back is a quote from that famous speech along with the date of it, Aug. 28, 1963.
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Barnes expanded on his comments to the crowd after the Mavericks’ 107-101 overtime loss to the Lakers.
“Dr. King meant a lot just in terms of his fight for equality, especially with everything that’s going on today in our society,” Barnes said, referring to the polarizing political landscape in our country today.
“People are being more vocal, not only in sports but just in general advocating for equality. I think that his message now is more prevalent than it’s ever been.”
Barnes talked about visiting the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture when the Mavericks visited the nation’s capital earlier this season.
Barnes and his teammates spent a couple hours soaking everything in and came away inspired by it all. Basketball superstar LeBron James made a $2.5 million donation to the museum in November 2016 for a Muhammad Ali exhibit.
“It just shows you that black history, it wasn’t short of struggle, but we persevered through a lot,” Barnes said. “As we continue to move forward, we have to honor the past, honor the legacy of those who have given so much to the cause, including their lives, and we’ve got to continue that fight.”
Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. agreed, and echoed the importance of remembering King and everything he stood for.
“Martin Luther King is like a superhero,” Smith said. “Without him, I wouldn’t be able to sit right here and give you this interview or even be in this league and put my family in the position that they are in now. He’s done a lot. I don’t think that all his accomplishments can ever fully be appreciated.
“He died. He died for this moment right here for a lot of guys to be in unity. The world isn’t perfect yet, probably never will be, but if he was here today, I’m sure he’d be happy with the strides that we made.”