Following a strike during the NBA playoffs in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting, the league and its players announced the forming of a social justice coalition that will work together on issues like expanding voter access and advocating for criminal justice reform.
In a subsequent statement, the NBA announced that the playoffs in Orlando would resume Saturday, three days after the Milwaukee Bucks became the first NBA team to sit out a game, a protest that sparked a league- and sports-wide strike in response to the Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting.
As part of the social justice initiative, the league and players mandated that any NBA team-owned arenas must “work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID,” the NBA said in a statement.
“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.”
Teams like the Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks had already pledged to convert their respective arenas into voting places earlier this summer, with the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets also recently announcing that their home courts will double as a polling place on Election Day.
Additionally, the league will run ads during NBA playoff games “dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”
Joint NBA and NBPA statement: pic.twitter.com/EFp6fG9oZs
— NBA (@NBA) August 28, 2020
“I understand that some of you feel the league should be doing more,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement Friday. “I hear you — and please know that I am focused on ensuring that we as a league are effecting real change both within our organization and in communities across the country. Through the efforts of our internal Social Justice Task Force and the commitments we made, including the formation of the first-ever NBA Foundation to create greater economic empowerment in the Black community, we are dedicated to driving the sustainable change that is long overdue.”
Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts and Silver added in a joint statement, “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.
“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.”
Letter from NBA Commissioner to league employees pic.twitter.com/NY2tiMF8dx
— NBA (@NBA) August 28, 2020