The members of the infamous Banana Boat crew have been a few of the most politically vocal major athletes of their generation. Back in 2012 LeBron James and Dwyane Wade led the Miami Heat in wearing hoodies in protest of Trayvon Martin’s death, and last weekend Carmelo Anthony used Instagram to call for his fellow black athletes to follow in the footsteps of civil rights pioneers.
Tonight, the ESPYs opened with prepared remarks from James, Wade, Anthony, and Chris Paul that were clearly patterned after Melo’s Instagram letter. The statement began with Anthony, Paul, and Wade invoking both black activist athletes and black boys and men who have died at the hands of police officers— “Not seeing the value of black and brown bodies has to stop,” said Wade—before shifting into a more, uh, generally palatable plea for athletes to, in LeBron’s words, “rebuild” and “strengthen” the communities they grew up in.
According to ABC’s T.J. Holmes, the Banana Boaters personally asked to open the show.