NBA ready to help players take 'meaningful action' on social issues
LOS ANGELES, USA – The National Basketball Association and the NBA Players Association are consulting with players over how to take "meaningful action" on social issues as the recent deaths of two African-American men reverberated around the US sports world on Thursday.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has divided public opinion with his decision not to stand for the national anthem before NFL games, in protest of the treatment of minorities and police brutality in the United States.
Kaepernick's gesture of kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" has been imitated by a scattering of players around the NFL, as well as by US women's footballer Megan Rapinoe and, on Wednesday, the entire Indiana Fever WNBA team before a playoff game in the NBA-affiliated women's league.
The protests come as two more shootings of African-American men have reignited racial unrest that has simmered for months.
"Over the last several weeks many of you have reached out to us, both to solicit advice on how you can get involved to create positive change and to ask for support as you develop your own efforts," NBA commissioner Adam Silver and NBAPA chief Michelle Roberts wrote in a letter to players that was obtained by multiple US media outlets.
"The league and the Players Association, working together, have begun developing substantive ways for us to come together and take meaningful action."
The letter made no mention of the league rule that requires players and other team personnel to stand for the national anthem before games.
Instead it cited remarks from Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, Clippers point guard Chris Paul, and Chicago's Dwyane Wade, who "spoke eloquently about the senseless acts of violence impacting our communities" at the ESPY Awards in July.
Wade took to social media after Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"We must come together MORE! We must show our strength as a Black Community MORE! Or we will continue to wake up to stories of US being shot down like WE don't matter. We must show that we matter to each other MORE! We must all do MORE!#TERENCECRUTCHER #WEAREMORE," Wade posted on his Instagram account.
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson also weighed in after the latest killings.
"This is happening too often, the senseless shootings in Tulsa & Charlotte are powerful reminders of how much work has to be done in America," Johnson wrote on Twitter.
Since taking over as commissioner at the beginning of 2014, Silver has backed players' rights to use their platform as public figures to voice opinions on social issues.
Chicago's Derrick Rose and James were among the players who warmed up before some games in 2014 wearing T-shirts reading "I can't breathe" – the last words uttered by Eric Garner, the Black father of 6 who died after he was put in a chokehold by a New York police officer.
With pre-season games to begin on October 2 and the regular season set to tip off on October 25, Silver and Roberts urged players to weigh in with ideas.
"We will be working with your teams during training camp to get your thoughts and ideas," the letter said. – Rappler.com