The National Basketball Association's players union agreed on Friday to resume the 2020 playoffs on the condition that a vast social justice program be implemented, which includes the conversion of empty basketball stadiums into voting sites for the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 3.
The agreement also calls for the establishment of a "social justice coalition" that will work to increase voter turnout, improve civic engagement, and advocate for social justice causes such as ending police brutality. Throughout the remainder of the season, advertising slots will be partly used to promote voter participation.
“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,” a joint statement from the NBA and the player’s union reads.
The announcement follows a groundbreaking players’ strike on Aug. 25 in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and an outpouring of grief and outrage by the league’s most notable figures, who said they had to take a stand against police violence.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
"True peace is not the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice." - MLK, Jr.— Carmelo Anthony (@carmeloanthony) August 28, 2020
Support the work and the action. We need a village to affect the change we desire. The time is now and our village needs us! Let's organize. @socialchangefnd
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The strike rippled across the sports world. Soon, the Women’s National Basketball Association joined — the players of which have a long history of speaking out about social justice — along with teams from Major League Baseball.
The 2020 NBA season already featured heightened levels of activism and advocacy.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the league moved all games to a sprawling facility in Orlando, Florida.
All of the players' jerseys now feature words and phrases of social justice, including “We Can’t Breathe,” “Respect Us,” and “Equality.”
The courts also have “Black Lives Matter” painted along the side, a constant reminder of the political struggle taking place in streets across the US as protesters seek systemic change and the end of police violence.
Players such as Lebron James, Chris Paul, and Kyrie Irving have been outspoken in their advocacy.
Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my @IPROMISESchool kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That's why your vote is @morethanavote ✊🏾 #BlackLivesMatter— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 27, 2020
The NBA has long been known as the most politically engaged sports league in the US. Adam Silver, the commissioner of the league, along with coaches and team owners have thrown their support behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
The latest announcement suggests that the league will only intensify its engagement with pressing social concerns in its pursuit of a more equal and just world.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver pens letter to league employees, obtained by @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium: “I wholeheartedly support NBA and WNBA players and their commitment to shining a light on important issues of social justice.” pic.twitter.com/2SPEunp64I— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 28, 2020
Global Citizen and HeadCount have teamed up to launch Just Vote, a campaign mobilizing young Americans to register to vote ahead of the 2020 election and beyond. As part of the campaign, your favorite artists and entertainers are offering exclusive experiences, performances, and memorabilia — and they can only be unlocked once eligible voters check their voter registration status. Learn more about Just Vote and how you can take action here.