USA TODAY Sports spoke with Charles Grantham, Director of Sports Management at Seton Hall, about how the NBA can influence policy change in America.


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Before making a kick, jumping ball or designing a game, NBA players, coaches and referees perform another gesture that underlined their aspirations go beyond the resumption of the season during the coronavirus pandemic.

All players and coaches with the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz wore “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts and closed arms while the NBA played a public service announcement about systemic racism. Then everyone knelt down during the national anthem to protest against systemic racism before their game Thursday at the HP Field House at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

Team staff members and officials also joined.

“As coaches, we are here to support the players,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said before the game. “The platform is their platform and I think you will see that the coaches will support the players because I think it is very important to put a united front. We will support the players with everything they will do from a social justice “I also think it ‘s very important because it’ s the first game to be played.”

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During the second game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, players, coaches and officials also blocked their weapons and knelt down to protest against systemic racism during the national anthem. Clippers coach Doc Rivers closed his arms with Lakers striker Anthony Davis, while Lakers coach Frank Vogel closed his arms with Clippers center Ivica Zubac.

The symbolic gesture was the first time NBA players knelt down during the national anthem since former NFL center-back Colin Kaepernick began making it four years ago. The NBA has a rule that states that “players, coaches and coaches must stand and line up in a dignified manner along the sidelines or in the hated line during the national anthem game.” The League adopted this rule in 1981 and has implemented it ever since. Given the circumstances in the US as citizens protest against social injustices, NBA players are using their voice to draw attention to important issues.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the league resumption, and has said in recent years that the league expects players, coaches and staff members to follow the rule. But not on Thursday.

“I respect the unified act of peaceful protest for social justice,” Silver said in a statement. “In these unique circumstances it will not enforce our long rule, which seeks to stand during the interpretation of our national anthem.”

Players from both teams also carried messages on the back of their shirts ranging from “Black Lives Matter” to “Equality” to “I Can’t Breathe” to “Say Their Names” to “Education Reform” “to” Ally “between the other league – and messages approved by the union. The Lakers ‘LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as well as the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, kept their last names.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations as a staff and player independently and then our whole group together. We support our players and we are anxious to participate with them,” the Jazz coach said earlier. Quin Snyder. “It’s so important at this point for us to be unified and to be able to protest peacefully about many of the critical things that are happening in our country right now. So tonight there is an opportunity to do it and move on. to raise awareness of the many challenges and battles we are all facing in terms of racial and social justice. “

National Basketball Reference Association spokesman Mark Denesuk said in a statement, “METERA VETIVS VJETACKR. Social justice and bringing awareness to the unequal treatment of black and brown people in America are very important to our diverse membership, and we felt a responsibility to use our visibility as the NBA season resumes to promote awareness and inspire anti-racist action in our nation and around the world. “

Earlier Thursday, the NBPA posted on Twitter, “As the season returns, our focus remains the same. #BlackLives Matter” with images that read “Breonna Taylor’s killers have not yet been arrested and … There are over 660K deaths in it all over the world because of COVID-19 and … Election Day is Tuesday 3 November 2020 and … voter repression continues to deny the rights of BIPOC communities and … our war will not stop “.

Follow NBA reporters Mark Medina and Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter.

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