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NBA Update: The Playoffs Resume Saturday, All Arenas Will Be Used As Voting Centers, And More!

Players agree to form social justice coalition with coaches

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 26: A basketball sits next to an NBA Playoffs logo in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round scheduled between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 26, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players Association released a joint statement Friday announcing that games will resume Saturday after three days of postponements.

The league announced the weekend schedule Friday afternoon. Saturday’s schedule is as follows: Orlando Magic-Milwaukee Bucks at 3:30 p.m. (ESPN); Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets at 6:30 p.m (TNT); and Portland Trail Blazers-Los Angeles Lakers at 9 (TNT). Each is a first-round Game 5.

On Sunday, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors open their second-round series at 1 p.m. (ESPN), followed by a LA Clippers-Dallas Mavericks first-round Game 6 at 3:30 (ESPN), and a Denver Nuggets-Utah Jazz first-round Game 6 at 8:30 (TNT).

From there, the playoffs are expected to go on as previously scheduled.

After a two-day boycott spearheaded by the league’s players in response to Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shooting of Jacob Blake seven times in the back, by police in, the NBA postseason will resume on Saturday, the league announced on Friday. Coupled with the return of postseason play will be an increased effort on the league’s behalf moving forward to work with the players to expand voting access and to amplify other social justice efforts, including using every NBA arena property as voting locations for the 2020

NBA players took a stand against racism and demanded equality for Black people across America by not playing in any games on Wednesday evening.

It inspired athletes in other sports to sit out, and we’ll see where that leads. It inspired NBA players to make greater demands of owners. It might inspire owners to listen, lest they face another work stoppage. It also inspired league up to 300 NBA employees to strike Friday.

Finally, there was a meeting Thursday afternoon between representatives from those 13 teams, the owners from those teams plus Hornets owner Michael Jordan, who is chairman of the NBA’s labor relations committee. During that meeting, the sides discussed how the league would return to play and reached an agreement on the initiatives that were announced Friday afternoon.

“It was awesome,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of that initial meeting Wednesday night. “And I don’t even know that that meeting went well. That meeting had a lot of anger, a lot of voices, a lot of emotion. I think I’ve learned long ago that emotion is great, being emotional sometimes is not. [You] know what I mean?

“But it was out there. We got to hear what people felt and thought. So to me, that was very powerful. That’s what I told our guys, the players, that, ‘This is a powerful moment. You guys are learning how powerful you can be,’ and that I was proud of them. But then to come back that next morning, it was amazing, the difference. They got it out, then they could talk. And then the third meeting, now we could work. I just thought the progression of that was absolutely perfect.”

On Thursday morning, the NBA’s officials made sure the players weren’t standing alone.

Instead of remaining silent on the issue, the NBA’s referees decided to host a march on the NBA’s bubble campus in support of the players’ protests against racism and police brutality.

They all met up early on Thursday morning, and at 9 a.m. at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort, they began a march around the campus. It wasn’t just NBA officials, either. Team attendants and others who were living on the NBA’s campus during their restart also attended.

The NBA players’ strike inspired people to pay closer attention to players’ racial-justice messages. The Bucks’ decision began a movement that spread not only to the other 13 teams inside the NBA’s bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort but also to several other sports leagues, including the WNBA, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the NHL.

NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following joint statement: 

“We had a candid, impassioned and productive conversation yesterday between NBA players, coaches and team governors regarding next steps to further our collective efforts and actions in support of social justice and racial equality. Among others, the attendees included player and team representatives of all 13 teams in Orlando. All parties agreed to resume NBA playoff games on Saturday, Aug. 29 with the understanding that the league together with the players will work to enact the following commitments:

1. The NBA and its players have agreed to immediately establish a social justice coalition, with representatives from players, coaches and governors, that will be focused on a broad range of issues, including increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.

2. In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID. If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards.

3. The league will work with the players and our network partners to create and include advertising spots in each NBA playoff game dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.

“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community.

“We look forward to the resumption of the playoffs and continuing to work together – in Orlando and in all NBA team markets – to push for meaningful and sustainable change.” 

With the boycott, the players took the world’s focus off of on-court action and shifted it to the ongoing social inequality in the United States. While the idea of playing no further games this season was considered, ultimately the players decided that they should finish what they started in Orlando. 

The playoffs will pick up where they left off. Thus far, three teams in the Eastern Conference — the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Miami Heat — have punched their ticket to the semifinals with first-round sweeps, while all four first-round series in the West are still taking place. 

Some NBA teams — including the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Rockets, Charlotte Hornets and Jazz — had already announced that their arenas will be available to be used as voting locations in November. The Clippers on Friday announced that The Forum will serve as a vote center and that people will be able to vote in person or drop off mail-in ballots there from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3.

On this initiative, a statement from More Than a Vote, the nonprofit organization co-founded by LeBron James, read in part, “We stand ready to support the NBPA’s and NBA’s effort to convert every NBA arena possible into a polling location for this fall’s election.

“We know that voting will not end our pain. Voting cannot bring back those killed by the police officers sworn to protect us. Voting cannot erase the scars of slavery and segregation. It cannot change our history, but it can change our future.

“If it couldn’t, those in power wouldn’t be trying so hard to take the right to vote away from us. They wouldn’t be trying so hard to erect barriers to the ballot box.”

Teams returned to practice Friday in preparation for a return to the court this weekend. Although several teams canceled media availability Friday, Thunder star Chris Paul, the president of the NBPA, spoke about the decision to return to the court and resume the season.

“I have to give a lot of credit to our players,” Paul said. “It’s been a hard time for everyone. The communication we’ve been having is amazing. I think everyone saw guys just needing to reset, to refocus. And that’s what we did.”

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About AJ Woodson (2278 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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