The players are talking.
If and when the National Basketball Association gets its product back on the court, and some answers about that could come on Thursday, players and coaches once again will be available daily to talk about social issues. The death of George Floyd will continue to be a topic when the games get going. But league owners, management, coaches and players are talking now at protests and through media platforms. NBA players and coaches and some owners have been very active commenting on social problems for years with the first known protest staged by Bill Russell and African-American members of the Boston Celtics in Lexington, Kentucky in 1961. Russell and his teammates refused to play a pre-season game in the city after Celtics Negro players were denied entry into a Lexington restaurant.
When the NBA last offered product in March, COVID-19 was sweeping across the United States. Everyone was trying to figure out how to deal with the illness. The pandemic has killed more than 100,000 Americans and the African-American community been hit very hard by the virus. That would under normal circumstances be the issue that NBA personnel would have to speak about. Now it is again police brutality. The NBA has been here before, on December 8th, 2015 to be exact when LeBron James wore at-shirt which read “I can’t breathe” during warmups before a Cleveland Cavaliers-Nets game in Brooklyn. Those were Eric Garner’s last three words before he died during a scuffle with New York City police officers. Nearly five years later, the issue remains the same. African-Americans are protesting because of police brutality. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Governors have decided not to stop the players from talking. Well that is not quite true, the New York Knicks James Dolan, doesn’t think employees of an entertainment company should comment. Athletes have the right to speak.