One generation after Michael Jordan famously eschewed political stances on the grounds that "Republicans buy shoes, too," athletes aren't nearly as afraid to remain neutral on subjects that matter.
Recent protests and social movements triggered by events in Ferguson and across the country are pushing professional athletes to use their public platforms in advancing issues they care about most.
Quietly, LeBron James is becoming one of them.
Ever since his Miami Heat posted a hoodie-draped homage to Trayvon Martin following his shooting death, James has been less and less afraid to insert his voice into issues of race.
Last spring, he called for the NBA to remove Donald Sterling as the Los Angeles Clippers owner after tapes revealing Sterling's racist comments were leaked to the public.
James has also made some carefully weighed remarks regarding the more recent social unrest taking place across the country. While acknowledging that problems exist, James also wanted to steer clear of inciting any additional violence.
"It's a sensitive subject right now," James said to CBS Sports. "Violence is not the answer; retaliation isn't the solution. As a society, we just have to do better."
James also addressed the issue of race in the NBA during a sit-down interview before the start of the NBA season:
As athletes become more comfortable with taking a stand, the spotlight inevitably shines brighter on that world's most visible personalities. James is adept at handling this pressure, only commenting in a careful manner without making statements too strong in any direction.
But he's making comments nonetheless, which is an important step.
"It doesn't matter if you're an athlete or not," James said to CBS Sports. "If you feel passionate about it or it hits home for you, then you have the right to speak upon it. That's why we have freedom of speech. I've never shied away for something that I feel for or people or families that I feel for. That's just who I am.
"But I don't think we should add pressure to anybody, first of all, that doesn't have the knowledge about it, that's not educated upon it to speak about something you don't know about."
In other words, James doesn't want to feel pressured to say anything. But he does want to be a part of the conversation. At this point, it seems the Cavaliers star is trying to figure out how he wants his voice to be involved.