The NBA wants to keep the Black Lives Matter message in front of people as it returns to the play.
It will do that literally — “Black Lives Matter” will be written on all three courts used for televised games during the NBA’s restart at the Walt Disney World property in Orlando. Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the story.
It will be written inside both sidelines, according to the report.
ESPN also reports the WNBA is considering the same thing at its games at the IMG Academy in Florida this summer.
For weeks, the league and National Basketball Players Association have talked about ways to use the spotlight that the NBA’s restart will create to help players get their social justice message out. One idea was to allow players to replace the last name on their jersey with a message. The NBA painting Black Lives Matter on the court is another way that will be hard to miss. The league and its players also are looking for more tangible ways to make a difference in communities.
“I think this is incumbent on us to not lose this moment and this opportunity. I know Michele [Roberts, executive director of the players’ union] and Chris [Paul, president of the players’ union] can speak for themselves, but I certainly believe that the world’s attention will be on us in Orlando,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last Friday.
NBA and WNBA players have been vocal and active in protests nationwide that sprung up in reaction to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Those protests grew in intensity because of the killings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. Some players (led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley) expressed concern that the NBA restarting play could be a distraction from the BLM movement and rob it of momentum. The league and players’ union have tried to find a way not to let that happen — such as having Black Lives Matter written on the court — but not all players think that will be enough. Still, the majority of players are heading to Orlando with the intent to use that platform.