NBA Leads Country for Safety, Justice and Equality


It’s been a year unlike any other for the NBA. It’s been a unique year for all of us; untimely deaths, sickness, massive unemployment, and the latest disturbing case of racial injustice.

Throughout all of this, a new generation of leaders has risen to the challenge. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, with current and former players, led the country through our most challenging time in decades.

Public Health

The morning of March 11 felt normal. That night, however, Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, and the NBA suspended the season. Over the next few days and weeks, every other league canceled every other sporting event.

Some of the league’s biggest names were testing positive, including Donovan Mitchell, Kevin Durant, and several others. Karl-Anthony Towns lost his mother to the virus on April 13.

We as fans faced a public health problem we wanted to ignore. Strange words and phrases like asymptomatic cases, social distancing, and antibodies became part of our everyday vocabulary.

Despite the new norm, numerous members of the NBA community used their platforms to help. Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s The Jump helped educate hoops fans. Steph Curry used his Instagram account to host a Q&A with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Despite outside pressure and massive financial implications, Silver worked with public and private experts for months to design a safe plan for resuming play. Now the league is restarting on July 31.

Right now, other major sports leagues are examining the association as a test case for safely resuming their leagues.

Racial Injustice

After months in quarantine, 100,000 lives lost, and 40 million unemployed, the situation couldn’t get much worse. On May 25, video of the killing of George Floyd ignited racial protests, which we had not seen since the Rodney King riots in 1992. Maybe, not even since the outrage after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968.

If there is any silver lining to this heinous crime, it seems that the country has finally decided that it can no longer stomach police brutality. A new generation of diverse leaders has found their voice. On May 29, Stephen Jackson stood alongside protesters in Minneapolis and delivered a powerful and unifying speech. You could see a teary Towns standing alongside his NBA brethren.

Protests spread from coast to coast, and in almost every major city, you could find an NBA player on the front lines. Trae Young, Malcolm Brogdon, Enes Kanter, Jaylen Brown, Lonzo Ball, Tobias Harris and several other players marched in the streets.

Legacy Fulfilled

The generation that watched LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade speak on police brutality at the 2016 ESPY’s were now charging. A legacy fulfilled, a marathon continued.

Worth noting, coaches have formed a committee on racial injustices and reform. Lloyd Pierce, Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr are all risking popularity and profit to protect marginalized people.

Both the pandemic and protests show little sign of letting up anytime soon, but our country is reckoning with a painful past for a safer future.

About Pat Benson

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