INDEPENDENCE: At the ESPY Awards on July 14, the Cavaliers LeBron James stood alongside Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade as the four spoke about gun violence, police brutality against African-Americans and the countrys racial divide.

Earlier this month, the Cavs Iman Shumpert released a rap song online titled His Story in which he vowed he was going to take a knee for the national anthem.

The anthem debate was spurred by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernicks decision to kneel in protest to make a statement about wrongdoings against blacks and other minorities in the United States. Kaepernick has received death threats and been criticized for disrespecting the flag and the military.

Shumpert has since changed his mind about the anthem, saying he will go along with the consensus of his teammates when the defending NBA champions open the preseason Oct. 5.

While General Manager David Griffin said Monday the Cavs will discuss the issue as a team, James said he plans to stand.

Me standing for the national anthem is something I will do. Thats who I am, thats what I believe in, James said during Cavs Media Day at the Cleveland Clinic Courts. But that doesnt mean I dont respect and dont agree with what Colin Kaepernick is doing. You have the right to voice your opinion, stand for your opinion and hes doing it in the most peaceful way Ive ever seen someone do something.

What I do not like about the situation is the negative attention thats been thrown upon him from certain people, because its not deserved. He was very educated, very smart, very candid and very demanding about what he wanted to do and he didnt ask anybody else to join him.

When James and his closest friends in the league talked at the ESPYs, James wasnt just thinking about African-Americans like Clevelands Tamir Rice who had been senselessly gunned down. He said his children LeBron Jr., 12, Bryce, 9 and Zhuri, 2 were also on his mind.

James said, Its tough being a parent right now when you have a pre-teen, and he fears what might happen when sixth-grader LeBron Jr. starts to drive in four years and is pulled over by the police.

You tell your kids, If you just listen to the police, they will be respectful and things will work itself out. And you see these videos that continue to come out, its a scary ass situation, James said. If my son calls me and says hes been pulled over, Im not that confident that things are going to go well and my son is going to return home.

I dont have the answer; none of us have the answer. But the more times we can talk about it ... Im not up here saying all police are bad because theyre not. Im not up here saying that all kids are great and all adults are great because theyre not. But at the same time all lives do matter. Its not black or white, its not that. Its everyone.

James wasnt the only Cavalier who spoke passionately about the racial issues that have been revived in America. Kyrie Irving shared James strong feelings, and not just because he became a father last year.

I think thats kind of being swept under the rug a little bit within our society, the respect we have for us as humans ... being great people, not holding any grudges or having preconceived judgments about anyone. Its plaguing us right now, Irving said.

A lot of mistakes, you can call them accidents as well, decisions that can happen so quick that can change a persons life in a matter of a moment. We have to take a step back, not only as a black community, but as a society, we have to be better.

We have to call upon, not only athletes, I think its personally unfair to put all the pressure on us athletes to say something in order to change the world.

Kevin Love appreciates the dialogue Kaepernick sparked but is appalled at what continues to happen, with police shootings last week in Tulsa, Okla., and Charlotte, N.C.

Everybody has a right to their opinion, he said. But if youre not aware and seeing whats going on, youre not paying attention. I think most people feel that they should be pretty disgusted with whats going on and we need to be better as a country.

Griffin felt the same disgust and wants the focus on the issues behind Kaepernicks decision to kneel, not the quarterback himself.

Far too much is being made of what nonviolent protest somebody chooses to implement and not nearly enough is being paid to the actual issues that spawned that outrage in the first place, Griffin said.

Lets start talking about what we actually did about it.

Marla Ridenour can be reached at mridenour@thebeaconjournal.com. Read her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.