The NBA certainly isn’t without its controversies. Just recently, we’ve seen players and fans protest in and around the NBA. Even going so far as to refuse to play games. However, just because it was so high profile, doesn’t mean that people genuinely know the reason why these people were protesting. So, what is the NBA protest about?
What Is the NBA Protest About? The protest was completely centered around the players protesting racial injustice. This all happened in 2020 when the league was going into the pandemic enforced NBA Bubble to finish its season. With so many difficult conversations being had across the world. It resulted in players kneeling for the National Anthem, refusing to come out onto the floor and demanding that they get a new way to represent themselves and their beliefs while playing.
There was a lot that went into this protest throughout the months that followed, and not everything about it saw positive improvements.
Refusal To Play Or Work
The biggest headlines were coming when both the players and workers of the NBA were performing walk outs. Approximately 100 employees across their departments staged a walkout along with multiple NBA and WNBA players who refused to play a game in protest of social injustice. One NBA employee in particular said this, “I am virtually walking out of the office in opposition to systemic racism and police brutality in this country in solidarity with out NBA and WNBA players.” Once the NBA commissioner Adam Silver heard about the players declining to play and after the league went three days without a game. He decided to send out an email to everybody involved with the league, saying, “I understand that some of you feel the league should be doing more. I hear you – and please know that I am focused on ensuring that we as a league are affecting real change both within our organization and in communities across the country.” Also, in the email was him saying, “Yesterday we had a candid productive conversation with NBA players, coaches and team governors regarding next steps to further our collective efforts and actions in support of social justice and racial equality. The discussion centered around how we can best collaborate to address a broad range of issues, including increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for police and criminal justice reform.” It was pretty obvious straight away that the league wanted to do right by their players, employees and fans by instantly working on issues to get things improved in the world.
Players Demanded Change
There were a few players in particular that led the charge when it came to promoting these issues and getting the word out that change needed to be made. LeBron James would be one of the most notable, as he took to social media to share his disgust over the things going on in the world. He also advocated for change in the league and was one of the most outspoken regarding these problems.
The Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was similarly upset. He wasn’t as outspoken as LeBron was, but he was seen visiting a few peaceful protests that were happening to talk about these issues. He even drove 15 long hours to go to one and help show support to everybody involved. Damian Lillard was another player who drove over to a protest to show support as well. Giannis Antetokounmpo visited protests and was one of the first players to refuse to hit the court due to the circumstances going on. It was him and George Hill that really got the ball rolling on these players demanding change and refusing to play until they were able to get something. DeMar DeRozan and Russell Westbrook talked about these issues on social media also and showed pictures of the two of them at different protests to try and promote awareness themselves. There were many other stars in the league that did everything they could to try and improve this horrible situation. Overall, though, it was incredible to see so many big-name players and athletes come out to advocate change and band together as a family.
NBA Bubble Had Different Jerseys Due To Protest
When the league was setting up for the NBA Bubble in Orlando, they were able to listen to the players and coaches regarding these issues. They wanted to be sure that they could provide them with a method to spread awareness in a way that wouldn’t be over the top or too little. That was when they were talking with the players and decided that instead of players having their last names on their jerseys, they would instead have a statement to promote. The league went ahead and approved a variety of messages for players to wear proudly on the backs of their jerseys. For those that might want to know, the messages that were approved were as follows: Black Lives Matter; I Can’t Breathe; Say Their Names; Vote; Justice; Equality; Peace; Power to the People; Say Her Name; Freedom; Enough; Justice Now; Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Stand Up; Alley; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More and a lot of others that would just be too many to individually list.
The bottom line was that these messages were very impactful and gave tremendous awareness to the fans watching. Unsurprisingly, the league also had to work alongside Nike to make this a reality. Nike was producing the jerseys at the time and was completely on board with the messages on the back of the jerseys. This might seem like a minor change in regards to the massive situations going on in the world at the time. However, touching the nameplates on the backs of NBA jerseys is something that’s basically unheard of. The last time a nameplate was changed was back in 2014 when the league allowed players to change their nameplates to nicknames instead of last names.