Report: NBA planning to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on courts in Orlando

A protester looks up at a sign that reads "Black Lives Matter" in Marseille, southern France, Saturday, June 6, 2020, during a protest against the recent death of George Floyd. (Daniel Cole/AP)

The NBA is reportedly planning to paint “Black Lives Matter” near centre court and inside both sidelines of the three Orlando arenas that will be used when play resumes, according to Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The WNBA has also had discussions about painting “Black Lives Matter” on the court when it begins its abbreviated season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Lowe and Shelburne reported.

The court redesign comes on the heels of reports earlier this week, indicating that players in Orlando will be allowed to replace the last name on their jerseys with a statement about social justice.

NBA and WNBA players have been adamant that plans to resume play must incorporate ways to support the ongoing racial justice movement in the United States.

Earlier this month, Kyrie Irving led a players-only conference call centred on unity, systemic racism and investing in communities with over 80 basketball players from the NBA and WNBA, according to multiple reports, which sparked broader conversations over how the NBA’s return-to-play plan may impact the current racial justice movement across the United States.

Since then, WNBA players, including Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream and Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics, have opted to sit out the WNBA season to focus their efforts on the fight for social justice.

Several high-profile players in both leagues have marched in protests against police brutality and systemic racism, sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, who was killed after a white police officer pinned him down and knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes; Breonna Taylor, who died in her apartment after police — executing a “no-knock” search warrant — used a battering ram to enter her apartment and, following a brief confrontation, fired several shots, striking her at least eight times; and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old who was chased and shot by armed white residents of a south Georgia neighborhood.

During a conference call with reporters last Friday, both the NBA and NBPA reiterated their commitment to discussing several methods of using the NBA’s platform in Orlando to advance the discussion on racial equality, social justice and police brutality.

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