The NBA will be back this weekend, but after extensive conversations with governors throughout the week, the league and its players released a joint statement on Friday detailing the concrete changes they hope to see going forward as they resume play.
Among those actions are the formation of a players’ social justice coalition (taking a nod from the WNBA which has had a players’ council since the beginning of the season); turning team-owned buildings into voting centers (following the lead of the Hawks and others that have already done so, in conjunction with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote initiative); and placing ad spots and public service announcements during broadcasts related to civic engagement and voter awareness.
In reports throughout the past few days, it’s become clear that many players and coaches, including most notably LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, were ready to hang it up for 2020 unless team governors promised to do more to affect direct change. Governors will be tasked with working with local officials to turn team-owned venues into polling places or ballot intake sites, and the release states that the social justice coalition will also feature team governors. There also must be league-wide buy-in to take the step of airing ads and PSAs that are overtly political during game broadcasts.
NBA players have shown they are willing to put games on the line to enact change, so how this plays out in practice, as well as how the league continues to push outside the confines of the court, will clearly be just as big a part of the remainder of the 2020 playoffs as who comes away with the title.