NBA, NBPA Say Fighting Racial Inequality Will Be Goal of Season Restart

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2020

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MARCH 08: Chris Paul #3 of the Oklahoma City Thunder brings the ball up court during the first quarter of the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on March 08, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
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The NBA and National Basketball Players Association released a joint statement on Wednesday saying the "goal of the season restart in Orlando will be to take collective action to combat systemic racism and racial inequality across the country," per Malika Andrews of ESPN. 

"The issues of systemic racism and police brutality in our country need to end," NBPA president and Oklahoma Thunder point guard Chris Paul said in the statement. "As players, we have taken a leadership role when it comes to using our voices and implementing practical solutions, but there is much work ahead both in Orlando and long-term to continue the momentum and bring about real, long-lasting change to our society."

The group of Paul, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and NBA players Trae Young, CJ McCollum, Malcolm Brogdon and Donovan Mitchell met Tuesday and discussed plans to:

  • Increase hirings of Black coaches, staff members and executives at both the league and team level
  • Increase partnerships with Black-owned businesses and vendors
  • Create a foundation for Black communities that would "expand educational and economic development"

That mirrored the goals that the players coalition led by Avery Bradley and Kyrie Irving wanted to see put in place before the NBA season resumed in late July.

That coalition had discussed not continuing the 2019-20 season, in part to avoid distracting from the protests happening around the United States and the world demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery in recent months. Many NBA players have joined those protests and used their platform to raise awareness of the injustices and inequality faced by the Black community.

"The actual act of sitting out doesn't directly fight systemic racism," Bradley said on June 16, per Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski. "But it does highlight the reality that without Black athletes, the NBA wouldn't be what it is today. The league has a responsibility to our communities in helping to empower us—just as we have made the NBA brand strong."

The players have agreed to the 22-team restart of the season in Orlando, but now they've used their power to get the NBA to commit to working with them to increase Black leadership within the league and to better support the Black community.