NBA legend and respected activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Tuesday night, focusing on issues of race, religion and the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick.
The Pro Basketball Hall of Famer penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that was published Tuesday, calling Kaepernick "highly patriotic" and defending his free speech rights.
"It's important to protect the speech of the people who you don't want to hear because freedom of speech is the basis for what America is all about," he said.
The former NBA star said athletes should publicly stand up for what they believe in.
He recalled demonstrating on the UCLA campus after Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated, even after his peers advised him not to.
"I don't think Colin has to abide by that; he has to do what his conscience dictates, and I think that's why he made the statement he made," Abdul-Jabbar said.
In the audience Tuesday night was three time NBA champion and former University of San Francisco star Bill Cartwright. He too agreed wholeheartedly with Kaepernick.
"Now I think that we have everybody's attention," Cartwright said. "I think the next step is what do we do next?"
Abdul-Jabbar ended with what he hopes is an answer to that question: "Get to know your neighbors because America is an incredibly diverse place."