NBA, PA announce return to play, new initiatives


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts released a joint statement Friday announcing that the NBA playoffs will resume Saturday, and that the NBA and its players will work together on several initiatives to promote voting access and combat social justice, racial inequality and police reform.

“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” Silver and Roberts said in the statement. “We look forward to the resumption of the playoffs and continuing to work together – in Orlando and in all NBA team markets – to push for meaningful and sustainable change.”

Those commitments include:

— The immediate establishment of a social justice coalition, including representatives among players, coaches and team owners, that will cover a wide array of issues including increased voting access, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for “meaningful police and criminal justice reform.”

— Specifically on the voting front, in every NBA city where the league’s franchise owns and controls its arena property, owners will work with local officials to turn those arenas into voting locations for the 2020 general election, giving constituents a way to vote in person during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And, if that isn’t possible, there will be an effort to still use those facilities in other ways, including potentially being a place to register voters and receive ballots.

Some NBA teams — including the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Hornets and Utah Jazz — have already announced that their arenas will be available to be used as voting locations in November.

— The NBA agreed to work with both the players and its broadcast partners to create advertising that will appear during each NBA playoff game to promote greater civic engagement in national and local elections, and to raise awareness around voting access.

The statement, and the announced steps within it, came two days after the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to play in Wednesday’s playoff game against the Orlando Magic in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Bucks’ decision began a movement that not only spread to the other 13 teams inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort, but also to several other sports, including the WNBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the National Hockey League.

It also came in the wake of a meeting between players and coaches from all 13 teams still participating in the playoffs and the owners from those teams, as well as Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, the chairman of the NBA’s Labor Relations Committee, Thursday afternoon to discuss both the schedule for the league to return to play as well as to come up with specific points, like the ones listed above, to combat the issues that players have spent the past two months inside the bubble promoting and speaking passionately about.

Teams returned to practice Friday, though several canceled scheduled media availabilities early Friday afternoon. There was no indication if teams scheduled to practice later Friday would follow suit.

The expectation is that the games that had been scheduled to take place Wednesday — Bucks-Magic, the Houston Rockets vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Portland Trail Blazers — would be played Saturday, while the games scheduled to take place Thursday — the Utah Jazz vs. the Denver Nuggets, the Toronto Raptors vs. the Boston Celtics and the LA Clippers vs. the Dallas Mavericks — would be played Sunday. From there, the playoffs would then resume as previously scheduled.

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