NBA Reportedly Plans to Paint 'Black Lives Matter' on Courts in Orlando Arenas

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2020

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 25:  A generic image of a basketball on the court on December 25, 2017 at the TD Garden 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE  (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The NBA will paint "Black Lives Matter" on all three courts it will use when it resumes the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne.

The phrase reportedly would be featured inside both sidelines. Lowe and Shelburne reported the WNBA is also considering a similar nod to the "Black Lives Matter" movement when it opens its 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul, who's also the president of the National Basketball Players Association, told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears the union was working with the league to have players wear "personalized social justice, social cause or charity messages" on the backs of their jerseys.

Las Vegas Aces star Angel McCoughtry first brought up the idea, sharing a photo of her No. 35 jersey with "Breonna Taylor" featured on the back.

Angel McCoughtry @angel_35

Say their names on our jerseys https://t.co/AGF1r3Eqp2

Louisville police shot and killed Taylor in her apartment on March 13 while conducting a search warrant. Officers said they knocked on Taylor's door prior to entering, but her family has disputed that narrative in a wrongful death lawsuit.

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Lowe and Shelburne reported WNBA players have also proposed wearing shooting shirts bearing the slogan "Say Her Name," alluding to Taylor and other women who were the victims of police brutality.

The killings of Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery helped spark ongoing protests nationwide. Demonstrators have demanded meaningful reforms addressing police brutality, systemic racism and racial inequality.

The NBA announced June 4 its Board of Governors approved a plan to restart the current season in Orlando. However, some players questioned whether the restart might divert attention away from the movement for racial justice.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Lakers' Dwight Howard in statement to @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency...Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to." https://t.co/dfTlSPBwpV

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Kyrie on call with players: “I’m willing to give up everything I have (for social reform)," per @ShamsCharania https://t.co/nSlWOl7Bkm

ESPN's Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski spoke with Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, who said he and a coalition of players wanted to see the NBA lay out more concrete steps to increase the level of diversity in coaching and front-office ranks. Another focus was having the league set up official partnerships with Black-owned businesses and vendors.

The NBA subsequently issued a statement on June 24 to say a number of parties around the league met to discuss how to address social justice initiatives:

"The group that met yesterday agreed in principle that the goal of the season restart in Orlando will be to take collective action to combat systemic racism and promote social justice.  Conversations also covered strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities, and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community."

The NBA season will return July 30 with a pair of games. The Utah Jazz will open against the New Orleans Pelicans, followed by a clash between the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

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