One of the concerns a faction of NBA players have with the forthcoming return of basketball in July is the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement stemming from a police officer killing George Floyd in late May.
The group — a players’ coalition — felt that the NBA restart would act as a distraction instead of keeping focus on significant social issues. The majority of players eventually decided playing would give them their biggest platform to enact change, and worked with the NBA to make social justice a key part of the return-to-play plan at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
While exactly how the NBA and Players Association are going about this have yet to be announced, there are plans for a major change involving the courts each game will be played on. Instead of the usual sidelines that represent team names or other details, all three arenas will have sidelines painted with the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” according to Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
The NBA is planning to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the court inside both sidelines in all three arenas it will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season late next month, league sources told ESPN.
This is a small but rather important step for the NBA to take. It’s true that painting the sides of the court with Black Lives Matter will do nothing to end racial injustice on the surface. However, what it will do is keep the conversation fresh on everyone’s mind.
When the NBA returns, they’ll be the biggest American sporting event happening on TV. All eyes will be on them from July 30 to Oct. 12, and any time someone tunes into a game, they will see that phrase taking up a solid portion of their screen. Some may choose to ignore it, but that will be a conscious decision they have to make.
If this is the only thing the NBA does with their commitment to help fight racial injustice in America, then they will have failed in that promise. However, this idea mixed with more concrete means of change will be a significant help.
The league and the players have another month to figure out exactly the correct set of steps to take to enact change while still playing the games.
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