LeBron James going to All-Star with elections on his mind

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Golden State Warriors guard Brad Wanamaker, right, shoots as Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LeBron James is going to Georgia this weekend for more than the NBA All-Star Game.

He’s thinking about upcoming elections as well.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ star, one of the organizers of the More Than A Vote organization that aims to stop Black voter suppression and which played a major role in the outcome of the 2020 elections by encouraging voter turnout, will narrate an ad that will be aired for the first time during Sunday’s All-Star Game in Atlanta — in which he vows that the efforts will continue.

“Look what we made happen, what our voices made possible,” James says in the 51-second spot. “And now, look what they’re trying to do to silence us, using every trick in the book and attacking democracy itself. Because they saw what we’re capable of, and they fear it.”

With the All-Star Game being relocated to Atlanta because of the pandemic — the original plan was for it to be played in Indianapolis last month — it provided James and the More Than A Vote group the perfect backdrop to detail some of their plans going forward.

The organization’s 2021 platform, announced Friday morning, comes just days after House Democrats sent a bill to the Senate that potentially represents the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, which charts such things, said state lawmakers across the country have filed more than 200 bills in 43 states that would limit ballot access in future elections.

And earlier this week in Georgia, state lawmakers voted for legislation requiring identification to vote by mail that would also allow counties to cancel early in-person voting on Sundays — the “souls to the polls" events when many Black voters cast ballots after church.

“The question after the 2020 election was, ‘Will that momentum sustain itself? Will athletes stay engaged?’ And we’re saying, ‘Yes, absolutely, and here’s how,’” said More Than A Vote’s Michael Tyler, who was deputy communications director during Sen. Cory Booker’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination said.