NBA, NBPA announce social justice initiatives, plan to resume games Saturday

Chris Paul talks about an emotional week in the NBA and what actions the players want to see come out of their protesting.

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association released a joint statement on Friday announcing games would resume on Saturday, Aug. 29.

The statement also detailed how the league and its players will move forward with initiatives in support of social justice and racial equality.

From the NBA and NBPA:

We had a candid, impassioned and productive conversation yesterday between NBA players, coaches and team governors regarding next steps to further our collective efforts and actions in support of social justice and racial equality. Among others, the attendees included player and team representatives of all 13 teams in Orlando. All parties agreed to resume NBA playoff games on Saturday, Aug. 29 with the understanding that the league together with the players will work to enact the following commitments:

1. The NBA and its players have agreed to immediately establish a social justice coalition, with representatives from players, coaches and governors, that will be focused on a broad range of issues, including increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.

2. In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID. If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards.

3. The league will work with the players and our network partners to create and include advertising spots in each NBA playoff game dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.

These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community.

We look forward to the resumption of the playoffs and continuing to work together – in Orlando and in all NBA team markets – to push for meaningful and sustainable change.

Following the lead of its players, the NBA postponed games that were to be held Wednesday and Thursday, and after further discussions, have now also postponed Friday’s slate of matchups. The decision was made in order to make room for the important conversations being had and the actions being taken towards combatting racism and police brutality, pushing for social reform, and empowering vulnerable communities to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.

So far, the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Sacramento Kings have already pledged their home arenas to be used as voting sites as we look ahead to November’s U.S. election. A growing number of teams from other major leagues across the United States have done the same over the course of the summer — among them MLB teams like the L.A. Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers, and NHL clubs including the New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and most recently, the Arizona Coyotes.

The widespread player strike was first initiated by the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, with other clubs in the league’s Orlando bubble quickly following suit as players pushed for social justice in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday. Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, was shot in the back seven times by police officers while trying to get into his car with his children inside.

Multiple meetings between players, team owners, the players’ association, and league officials over the past few days determined that the playoffs would resume, but that more social action was a necessary part of the decision to proceed playing.

The historic movement to sit out games spread throughout the entire sports world. Players from the WNBA, always at the forefront of crucial social issues, also postponed the playing of their games and put on a particularly poignant display of solidarity by joining forces on the court wearing T-shirts spelling out Blake’s name on the front with seven bullet holes painted on the back. Athletes from MLS, MLB, and pro tennis also joined in the movement on Wednesday, as did those from the NHL on Thursday.

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