"I've wavered back and forth if I would actually sit out, if our owner came out and said the things that [Sterling] said," James said of the notion of potentially boycotting a playoff game. "I would really have to sit down with my teammates, talk to my family, because at the end of the day, our family and our teammates are way more important than that."
This isn't just lip service from James. He was fully aware of the reaction his stance would generate. It was different than when he spoke after Friday's practice of his frustration with what he believes has been a trend of deliberate hard fouls he's taken from opposing defenders. Still seething that the league eventually fined but did not suspend Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts for his hard foul in the Heat's Game 2 win, James said that if he played in the 1980s, he would have gotten up off the ground swinging in retaliation instead of walking away.
Earlier this season, James expressed displeasure with having to wear the sleeved jerseys the league has marketed to fans this season. Silver responded then by agreeing with James to table the public discussion about the tight-fitting jerseys until the offseason.
Before that, James stepped outside of the league's established mandate for players to wear clear masks to protect facial injuries. James ultimately complied, but not before playing a game with a sleek, all-black, microfiber mask in his first game back from a broken nose.
James' history of standing his ground on controversial issues has been well established, from gathering with his Heat teammates for a group photo in hooded sweatshirts to bring awareness to the Trayvon Martin case in 2012 to suggesting to CNN that race played a role in some of the backlash he received from fans after his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami as a free agent in 2010.
Not only have James' game and success on the court expanded these past four seasons in Miami, so has the foundation on which he stands. He's mentioned several times in recent months that he's obligated as a marquee and iconic player to use his voice and platform to effect change on issues that matter most. Right now, that mission is to ensure the league handles the Sterling problem free of hypocrisy.
"I'm not angry -- just disappointed more than anything," James said. "It's only 30 owners. There are 300, 400 of us [players]. I can only imagine if a player came out and said something of that stature. What would happen to us as players? I believe in Adam. I believe in the NBA, and they have to do something very fast and quickly before this really gets out of hand."
James didn't seem to care if anyone took that as an ultimatum.
He clearly has his pulse on the level of unrest this ordeal has caused throughout the league. He knows someone doesn't have to play for the Clippers or be an African-American to be offended by Sterling's alleged comments, just like one didn't have to own a pet to be disgusted by the details revealed in the dogfighting investigation of Michael Vick.
Wrong is wrong, and there's no room for a private or public racist as an owner in professional sports.
And that, more so than any of the 30 he scored Saturday, was James' biggest point of the night.
On most nights, James dominates the game with his skill.
This time, the combination of his stature and statements couldn't be denied.