WASHINGTON -- The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers played at Capital One Arena, LeBron James left a lasting impression by scoring 57 points against the Washington Wizards. On Sunday, James made an impression as soon as he stepped on the floor.
James wore one black sneaker and one white sneaker, with both featuring the word "EQUALITY" stitched in gold across the back of the shoe, in an apparent ode to racial harmony.
The look was hard to miss, with James and the Cavs wearing all-white uniforms that contrasted with the Wizards' navy blue uniforms.
"We all know where we are right now, and we know who is at the helm here," James said when asked about his choice of footwear after the Cavaliers' 106-99 win. "Us as Americans, no matter the skin color, no matter the race, no matter who you are, I think we all have to understand that having equal rights and being able to stand for something and speak for something and keeping the conversation going [is important].
LeBron makes statement with shoes
LeBron James wears two different sneakers, one white and one black, with the word "equality" written in gold.
"Obviously, I've been very outspoken and well-spoken about the situation that's going on at the helm here, and we're not going to let one person dictate us, us as Americans, how beautiful and how powerful we are as a people. Equality is all about understanding our rights, understanding what we stand for and how powerful we are as men and women, black or white or Hispanic. It doesn't matter your race, whatever the case may be, this is a beautiful country, and we're never going to let one person dictate how beautiful and how powerful we are."
James said a Nike representative hand-delivered the shoes to the Cavs' locker room before the game, and he green-lit the concept.
James wore an all-black pair of the same sneakers -- the LeBron 15 Equality PE -- on opening night against the Boston Celtics. That was his response to the backlash NFL players were receiving from President Donald Trump for their peaceful pregame protests calling attention to racial injustice in the United States.
"I just wanted to keep the conversation going," James told ESPN of his shoe choice at the time. "We know what we're going through. We know what we went through as a nation, as a world. So I had an opportunity to use a platform for the greater good and keep the conversation going. Why not?"
Sunday was the third of three trips the Cavs will make to the nation's capital this season -- one in the preseason, two in the regular season -- and Cleveland could play Washington in the playoffs.
James changed out of the statement shoes after going 4-for-12 from the field in the first two quarters.
"I didn't play well in the first half, and I'm very superstitious, so I took them off," James said. "I didn't play well in the second half, either, so if there was a third half, I would have took those off."
Even so, James matched the longest triple-double streak of his career by registering three straight triple-doubles for the first time since March 7-12, 2009, the season in which he won his first of four MVP awards.
"I actually played pretty bad tonight," James said. "I wasn't as strong with the ball. I had six turnovers. I was kind of lazy with the ball at times, and my teammates did a good job of bailing me out. I just try to put the ball on-time and on-target to get those assists, and they have to make the shots. That's why it's on my teammates. As for the rebounding, I wasn't shooting the ball like I've been shooting this season, so I had to try to do some things to still try to affect the game. I pride myself on being a triple-threat guy, and that's a byproduct of being able to get a triple-double."
James is averaging a triple-double in his past 13 games played -- 26.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 10.7 assists -- and the Cavs are 12-1 in that stretch, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, James' 13-game span of averaging a triple-double is the longest of his career. Entering this season, his longest was six games from Feb. 11-24, 2008. Last June, James became the first player in league history to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals.
James' 15 assists continued his streak of five straight games with 10 or more assists, the longest such streak of his career.
"I'm just in a good groove, and I'll probably be here for a while," James said.