Deprived basketball fans tuned in to ESPN this evening to eagerly watch the NBA’s schedule release special were met with a harrowing yet hopeful message straight from the league.
“The truth is racism is everywhere,” the NBA’s new 60-second spot began, displaying a montage of clips, photographs and newsreels from the past few tumultuous weeks of protests in the wake of the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks.
“The truth is silence is not an option,” the spot continued, showing an image of a white woman at one of the hundreds of demonstrations worldwide in support of #BlackLivesMatter, holding a sign that reads, “White silence is Black death.”
As the words “The truth is we need to do better and be better. We will push for equality, we will push for change. Because the truth is Black lives matter,” flash intermittently across the screen, with familiar faces from the league protesting for racial justice making cameos. This includes Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson, the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Houston Rockets’ Russell Westbrook and the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard.
Tonight’s advert came after an announcement by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association on Wednesday regarding the league’s goal of using the season restart in Orlando, Fla., as a launch pad for promoting social justice and combating systemic racism.
“Conversations also covered strategies to increase Black representation across the NBA and its teams, ensure greater inclusion of Black-owned and operated businesses across NBA business activities and form an NBA foundation to expand educational and economic development opportunities across the Black community,” the statement noted.
“As a union of NBA players and as a league, it is our job to use our collective platform to both put a spotlight on those issues and work to effect change,” said NBPA President Chris Paul in the statement. “As players, we have taken a leadership role when it comes to using our voices and implementing practical solutions, but there is much work ahead both in Orlando and long-term to continue the momentum and bring about real, long-lasting change to our society.”