The NBA plans to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on all three basketball courts the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when the season restarts in late July in Orlando, Florida, league sources told ESPN.
The announcement came as athletes called for justice over recent police custody deaths of black people. Both the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have previously said they will address and take action to combat racial injustice.
Leaders of both the NBA and NBPA told reporters on June 26 they are planning to make the NBA’s platform in Orlando a way to highlight racial inequality, social justice, and police brutality, ESPN reported.
“As a union of NBA players and as a league, it is our job to use our collective platform to both put a spotlight on those issues and work to effect change,” NBPA President and basketball player Chris Paul said in a news release on June 24.
“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 Oklahoma City Thunder star player continued.
Besides painting the words “Black Lives Matter” in multiple basketball courts, the league and union are also working on rules for players to be allowed to include messages linked to social justice on the backs of their jerseys and replace the players’ last names, Paul told ESPN.
“The league and the players are uniquely positioned to have a direct impact on combating systemic racism in our country, and we are committed to collective action to build a more equal and just society,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is planning to take the same road as the NBA when it begins its season at IMG Academy in Florida. WNBA players proposed putting slogans on their shirts that read “Say Her Name,” alluding to Breonna Taylor and other women who were the victims of police brutality, sources told ESPN.
Taylor was killed in her home on March 13 after law enforcement officers executed a “no-knock” drug warrant after midnight.
Former Louisville Metro Police Officer Brett Hankison violated procedures by showing “extreme indifference to the value of human life” when he “wantonly and blindly” fired 10 shots into Taylor’s apartment and was fired on June 23 following the shooting.
Protesters calling for justice in Taylor’s shooting have taken their calls to the streets amid international protests after the May 25 death of George Floyd who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.
Several former and current NBA players have released statements, made social media posts, or written about the protests following Floyd’s death. Michael Jordan wrote in a statement that he was “deeply saddened, truly pained, and plain angry.”
The 2019-2020 NBA season will resume July 30 at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The season was suspended on March 11 due to the CCP virus pandemic.
Isabel van Brugen and CNN Wire contributed to this report.