Both leagues plan to bring “Black Lives Matter” to the court when their seasons restart later this month in Florida.
As reported by ESPN on Monday evening, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the playing courts at the three designated arenas at Walt Disney World. NBPA president, Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul also told ESPN that the league and players union were collaborating to allow players to wear social justice messaging on the back of the jerseys.
The league has been figuring out various ways to use their platform while in the bubble in Orlando to bring attention and awareness to the police brutality, social justice, and racial climate that the country is currently facing.
The report mentioned that the WNBA has had discussions on having the “Black Lives Matter” art on their court at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. and players suggesting wearing warm-up shirts with “Say Her Name” to keep up the awareness about female victims of police brutality, including Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police in her home, when they kickstart their 22-game season.
Two players within the WNBA have spoken up with those ideas within the past few weeks. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm forward and 2018 MVP recipient, tweeted out the idea for the “Black Lives Matter” art to be on the court.
Angel McCoughtry came up with the idea of having names of female victims who suffered from police brutality on WNBA jerseys and has reached over 2500 signatures on her Change.org petition for the “Say Her Name” initiative.
Players within both leagues have been vocal about police brutality and social justice for years. Following the choking death of Eric Garner in 2014, NBA players wore warm-up shirts with “I Can’t Breathe” on them. In 2016, Minnesota Lynx players wore warm-up shirts honoring the victims of police-involved incidents, such as Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, and other teams followed suit wearing black warmup shirts.
Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore has taken time off from basketball to advocate for the freedom of a family friend, Jonathan Irons, who was wrongly convicted of burglary and assault, serving a 50-year sentence in St. Louis. His conviction was recently overturned in March. As of July 1st, Irons is now a free man.
Ahead of the 2020 WNBA season, Washington Mystics’ Natasha Cloud and Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery have opted out of going to Bradenton, Fla. with their respective teams to pivot to work around social justice reform.
There have not been any reported player opt-outs on the NBA side having to do with social justice reform but players have been doing their parts in their respective communities within that realm.
Both leagues are aligning to make the “Black Lives Matter” court happen so that the players’ stance is clear when they are within their respective bubbles in Florida.
Seeing both leagues come together and put this message on their huge platforms is a major thing as two leagues who lead the way for societal issues. The ideas that have come up have been great to be implemented amongst many other tangible ways of service within the communities affected.
These ideas didn’t come out of thin air but from WNBA players speaking out on social media about what they can do as a league to take a stance. It is good to see both leagues making moves to take a strong stance on important societal issues.