NBA players, coaches and even referees took part in a moving protest during the national anthem on Thursday. And LeBron James hopes it made Colin Kaepernick proud. 

Kaepernick inspired a wave of on-field protests when he began kneeling during the national anthem as a San Francisco 49ers player in 2016.

On Thursday, the NBA kicked off the first two games of its return to the season. As the national anthem played over the speaker, every player for the Utah Jazz, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers knelt.

"I hope we made Kaep proud. I hope we continue to make Kaep proud every single day. I hope I make him proud on how I live my life, not only on the basketball floor but off the floor," James told reporters after the game.

He went on to speak about how Kaepernick's protest was misconstrued and how it had nothing to do with the flag or the military, as some asserted. He also spoke about how the league's return to play could be used to push for social justice.

"Kaep was someone who stood up when times weren’t comfortable. When people didn’t understand. … It had absolutely nothing to do about the flag he explained that and people never listened. I did. We just thank him for sacrificing everything that he did," James said.

"In the past, when we've seen progress, we've let our foot off the gas a little bit. We can't do that. We want to continue to keep our foot on the gas and continue to push forward. Continue to spread love throughout America. We're dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality," he added. "Not only in my neighborhoods and not only with Black people but with people of color and its something we want to continue to have peoples ears' open to. And we have ears now."

As a quarterback for the 49ers, Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem and drew widespread vitriol from conservatives and Republican leaders across the country, including President Donald Trump.

Kaepernick still hasn't played in the NFL since protesting throughout the 2016 season and subsequently sued the league for blackballing him, eventually settling out of court for millions.

In light of the recent protests over the police killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and many others, players in several sports leagues have kneeled during the national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

As leagues have returned to play since the coronavirus pandemic hit, players in the MLB and WNBA have kneeled during the national anthem.

Before both NBA games, each player wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and some players' shirts had phrases like "Say her name" and "Equality" emblazoned on them. 

After the game, James posted a photo of himself with his fist up and wrote the caption, "What’s your purpose in life??? Create change, motivate and inspire others are some of mine! I just hope I continue to make y’all proud! Love you all!"