USA TODAY US Edition
Will NBA protests continue next season?
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.”