Orlando, Florida—In the NBA, Black players have accounted for 81.1% of its culture in the 2019-20 season. The remaining 89 were white players in that season; totaling 17.9% of its population of NBA players.
The number of Black players has increased by 6.7% in the league since 2015 based on the Racial and Gender Report Card released by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
Now that the NBA has started practicing in the bubble in Orlando, more Black players are using their voices to speak out of the social injustices that pain America.
Since the killing of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25th in Minneapolis, one officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been charged with second-degree murder after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes as he reiterated that he could not breathe which spurred nationwide protests. It followed the killings of Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased down by three white men and shot by one during a leisure jog in Georgia in February. All three men were indicted on murder charges.
Several high-profile players in both NBA and WNBA’s leagues participated in peaceful protests around the country to effect change in the Black community. They have been more vocal about the present climate and wanting changes in the NBA regarding hiring practices and ownership.
The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are outlining plans to paint the “Black Lives Matter” slogan on the court and inside both sidelines, in all three arenas the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season.
Players have strongly suggested that the fight for social justice and racial equality be a central theme of the NBA’s and the WNBA’s new season. Several of them considered forgoing the restart to focus on those issues involving their community. WNBA players, including Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream and Natasha Cloud of the Mystics, are sitting out the WNBA season to focus on social justice.
During a conference call with reporters Friday, leaders of both the NBA and the NBPA stated the league and union were discussing several ways to use the NBA’s platform in Orlando to call attention to racial equality, social justice, and police brutality. Over the weekend, Chris Paul, president of the players’ union, told ESPN that the league and union were collaborating to allow players to wear uniforms with personalized messages linked to social justice on the backs of their jerseys in place of the players’ last names.
Athletes like Chris Paul, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kyle Korver, Jared Dudley, and Dwayne Wade are no longer shutting up and dribbling a basketball, they are using their platform to change the racial divide that plagues America.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver senses the pulse of the trying times and wants to do everything to evoke a positive change to help the BLM movement.
“We are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” Silver said. “Racism, police brutality, and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored.”