Will NBA protests con­tinue next sea­son?

- Mark Me­d­ina Sports · Basketball · NBA Basketball · Justice · Law · National Basketball Association · Adam Silver · Chris Paul · Donald Trump

When­ever the NBA begins next sea­son, the games might look dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent -- and not just be­cause the league hopes teams can play in their home are­nas again, with fans in the stands.

The NBA may al­ter its plat­form on how teams and play­ers speak out on so­cial jus­tice is­sues.

In an ap­pear­ance this week on CNN, NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver ad­dressed whether the league will per­mit teams to protest sys­temic racism by kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them, wear­ing mes­sages on their jerseys and play­ing on courts that dis­play “Black Lives Mat­ter."

“I ex­pect it will man­i­fest it­self in dif­fer­ent ways. I think some of the things that we’re do­ing this sum­mer are unique,” Sil­ver said. “For ex­am­ple, the so­cial jus­tice mes­sages on the jerseys, putting Black Lives Mat­ter on the play­ing floor, my be­lief is that those are things unique to this mo­ment in time.”

Be­fore the NBA re­sumed its sea­son in late July at the ESPN Wide World of Sports com­plex, the league en­forced its 39-year-old rule stat­ing “play­ers, coaches and train­ers must stand and line up in a dig­ni­fied pos­ture along the foul lines” dur­ing the na­tional an­them. Amid protests this sum­mer sur­round­ing po­lice killing un­armed Black peo­ple, most no­tably Ge­orge Floyd, the NBA and play­ers union agreed to al­low teams to kneel dur­ing the an­them, as well as the other noted ges­tures.

“There’s also a recog­ni­tion that if we did some of those things all the time, there might be even a cer­tain amount of fa­tigue around them. And they wouldn’t draw the same sort of at­ten­tion,” Sil­ver said. “I do want peo­ple to see this as the val­ues of this league."

Sil­ver said he plans to talk to the play­ers union about how it would han­dle sym­bolic protests. It ap­pears likely that group would have a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

“This isn’t a one-time thing, ei­ther,” NBA play­ers union pres­i­dent Chris Paul said on CNN. “Be­cause we’ve seen the suc­cess with guys speak­ing out and mak­ing sure they use their plat­forms, hope­fully this is a thing go­ing for­ward.”

Some play­ers, in­clud­ing James, said they want to see own­ers show­ing more com­mit­ment to­ward us­ing their in­flu­ence with lo­cal and state gov­ern­ment lead­ers to en­act change. Play­ers have also down­played any back­lash they have faced with their protests both with words and ac­tions.

“We have to do what we think is right,” Paul said. “You have to stand for some­thing. At the end of the day, when you have kids and dif­fer­ent peo­ple watch­ing, you un­der­stand that it’s bigger than what [Pres­i­dent Trump’s] say­ing and all the name call­ing. It goes back to the re­spect of the of­fice. That’s a huge part of it. They’re go­ing to say this, or they’re go­ing to say that. But we all have to keep press­ing on.”

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