On Wednesday night and Thursday, NBA players met in multiple meetings to discuss the path forward after refusing to play games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The meetings have been described as tense and emotional, which makes sense given this is a tense and emotional time amid continued incidents of police violence towards Black men and women.
While there were reports of frustration with the lack of planning on the part of the Bucks for launching the strike without warning, the end result was productive conversation and, ultimately, an agreement with the league and team owners to create a social justice coalition, offer PSAs throughout the playoffs, and turn every team-owned arena into a voting location. On top of that, following a call with the Wisconsin lieutenant governor and attorney general, the Bucks successfully pushed for the Wisconsin state legislature to return to session to finally vote on a police reform bill.
There’s certainly still more that must be done, but anyone indicating the NBA’s protest was done in vain or without impacting change is doing so in bad faith. On Friday, after returning to practice, NBPA president Chris Paul spoke with reporters about the past few days and why it was good for these conversations to happen, while also getting emotional about a conversation he had with Jacob Blake’s father.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 28, 2020
“What we’re doing right now in the league is huge,” Paul said. “I think for the young guys in our league are getting a chance to see how guys are really coming together to speak and see real change, real action. Cause guys are tired, I mean tired. And when I say tired, we’re not physically tired, we’re tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. I was blessed and fortunate enough to talk to Jacob Blake’s father, and he’s a Winston-Salem State graduate and was in my hometown of Winston Salem for awhile. And it’s emotional. It’s emotional when you a Black man and when George Hill spoke he spoke about being a Black man. He was hurt. He was hurt, we’re all hurt. We’re all tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, and everybody just expects us to be OK because we get paid great money. We’re human, we have real feelings and I’m glad we were able to get in a room and talk with one another and not just cross paths and say, ‘Good luck in your game.'”
The last point he makes is one that is maybe the biggest benefit of everyone being in the Bubble in Orlando, because it’s one thing to have a Zoom call with players around the league, but it’s another for everyone to be in the same place and be able to really talk through things, have arguments, have disagreements, but do so face to face and ultimately come together on this issue.