Despite the looming return of the 2019-20 NBA season, the focus in recent weeks has been on the Black Lives Matter movement as protests and calls for action have occurred across the country after the unjust death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
The event led to an outpouring of calls for reform, especially from numerous NBA players who took to the Internet and social media to voice their thoughts.
Kyrie Irving has spearheaded a players’ coalition that includes heavy involvement from Los Angeles Lakers teammates Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard. The group has held multiple conference calls to discuss the season resuming and if it’s counterproductive to combating systemic racism and addressing social issues.
In response to the recent events, NBA teams released official statements in support of the movement and their condemnation of racism. The Lakers have been in contact with their employees and the players on the issues and also hired Dr. Karida Brown to be their new director of racial equality and action.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Brown’s role will have her working with everyone in the organization:
Brown said she will be working primarily with the Lakers’ nearly 150 team employees, rather than the players, coaches and front-office members specifically. However, she said she plans to be a “resource to everybody within the Lakers family.”
Brown has already been in contact with the team, but is working toward facilitating more meetings in the future:
Brown took part in a group call with the organization Thursday, according to a team spokesperson, and is planning to spearhead regular town-hall-type discussions within the team in the future.
Brown will be primarily tasked with educating the Lakers’ employees on issues minorities face and working with the team on outreach in the community. As an oral historian and assistant professor of African American studies and sociology at UCLA, she is more than qualified for the role and will be important in Los Angeles’ efforts to fight racism and bigotry.
Alongside Brown’s hiring, the Lakers also gave its employees June 19, or Juneteenth, off. Juneteenth is recognized as the day slavery in the United States was effectively ended, and employees were encouraged to study up on history and current issues in order to better understand everything going on.
The pair of moves is a signal that that the storied franchise is listening to its players and the current climate and hopefully more NBA teams follow suit and join in on the fight.
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