NBA to Resume Playoffs Saturday, League Establishing Social Justice Coalition and Arena Voting Sites
By Meredith B. Kile
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The NBA is set to resume their playoffs schedule on Saturday, after players sat out games this week in protest of racial injustice and police violence.
NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a joint statement on Friday which announced the return -- though a full playoffs schedule has yet to be finalized -- and pledged the league's new commitments to social justice issues.
"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," the statement reads. "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."
According to the statement, the league will be immediately establishing 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."
The NBA will also be working to convert all franchise-owned arenas into voting sites for the 2020 general election. "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," the statement adds.
The league will also be working with players and networks to create playoff ads "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,” the statement concludes. “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."
The change follows a league-wide strike by the players, who sat out of playoff games this week -- a movement which began with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, exactly four years to the day after Colin Kaepernick's first demonstration during a preseason NFL game -- following the police shooting of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake. Athletes from the WNBA, MLB, NHL, MLS, and more have also refused to play, aiming to turn the spotlight on police brutality and social justice issues.
Silver also put out a statement to league employees on Friday, stating, "I wholeheartedly support the NBA and WNBA players and their commitment to shining a light on important issues of social justice... I understand some of you feel the league should be doing more. I hear you -- and please know I am focused on ensuring that we as a league are effecting real change both within our organization and in communities across the country."