The NBA has played 367 games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Wikimedia Commons)

The efforts and sacrifices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still live in the hearts of countless pro athletes to this day. Several prominent figures in the NBA have shared how Dr. King made a significant impact on their lives.

Ahead of King Day, the hosts of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” shared their sentiments on Dr. King’s legacy. NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal noted how King Day is about peace.

“I would have loved to just shake his hand and say thank you, he is a phenomenal figure in the civil rights movement and him along with many other people because of the work that they did,” O’Neal said. “The trials and tribulations that they had to go through, I’m able to come here and make a pretty good salary.”

Two-time NBA Champion Kenny “The Jet” Smith recalled how he would talk about Dr. King with his father.

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“We always talk about the audacity that he thought that love can be the biggest, poignant agent against hate,” Smith said. “He has changed the way we think, the way we move.”

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley noted how Dr. King is a hero.

“They killed this man because he wanted equal rights,” Barkley said. “He got arrested so many times, got water hoses on him, got dogs sicked on him. It’s hard to imagine keeping your sanity doing that.”

Long-time “Inside the NBA” host Ernie Johnson noted how Dr. King rose into prominence through the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“He was only five-foot-seven but his shoulders were immensely broad because so many stood on the shoulders of Dr. Kings as the years went by,” Johnson said.

King Day was first observed on January 20 1986; since then, the NBA has held games on the holiday every year except in 1999. There has been 367 NBA games played on King Day.

Clippers forward Paul George (left) and Lakers forward LeBron James recently expressed their sentiment to Martin Luther King Jr. (AP Photo/Eric Thayer)

Lakers forward LeBron James noted that while hate may exist around the world, there is a way to thwart it.

“I think the more positive influence that we have, the more positive words, the more positive thinking … that we put out,” James said. “If we use a lot of our time to show the positive stuff that’s going on, then it would create change.”

Clippers forward Paul George explained how minorities being treated unfairly attacks justice.

“It doesn’t matter the color, it doesn’t matter the ethnicity, the religion, everybody should be held accountable,” George said. “Everybody should be held to the same standards, and nobody is above anyone else.”

Memphis Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins had opportunities to visit the Civil Rights Museum and has met with city officials and gained further knowledge on social justice.

“I think the last couple of years have shown that if we’re really trying to make positive change and quality for all, justice for all,” Jenkins said. “When you learn about the history, the tough times and the tough times that are ahead to really make sustainable change.”