NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made significant progress in navigating the challenges of the 2019-20 season restart amid a time of social unease and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The NBA has received plenty of praise from the medical community for its comprehensive safety guidelines that have been established for the bubble environment at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Meanwhile, Silver has also acknowledged the players’ concerns with keeping efforts going in the fight against racial injustice. The NBA reportedly will paint the sidelines of the three arenas being used for play in recognition of the Black Lives Matter protests.
However, there is still the glaring issue that could come with player protests during the national anthem. According to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, Silver touched on the prospect of allowing players to violate a league rule that requires them to stand:
“I am not comfortable with the word ‘allow,'” Silver said. “I think we have had a rule on our books that goes back to the early 80’s that precedes even David Stern’s tenure as commissioner that calls for players to stand in a line and attention during the national anthem. I also understand the role of protest and I think that we’ll deal with that situation when it presents itself.”
Despite all the progress that the NBA has made to finish out the season, Silver’s decision could dictate whether or not the league’s intent to utilize their platform to shine a light on the real issues is authentic.
The players’ coalition has been outspoken about their mixed feelings with actively providing a distraction from the progress being made off the court. They have also put the onus on team owners and members of the league’s front office to stand in solidarity by taking action alongside them rather than just voicing support.
Players like Los Angeles Lakers teammates LeBron James and Danny Green have expressed full confidence that they will be able to continue raising awareness during the season restart. It will be interesting to see if the players still express their intent to kneel regardless of which direction Silver sways.
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