A number of players in the NBA, the powerful North American Basketball League, came forward and took action after the death of George Floyd on May 26 during a police arrest. Today, while the NBA, shutdown since mid-March due to the coronavirus epidemic, decided to resume competition at the end of July, by confining the majority of the teams in a single place – Disney World, Florida -, a group of around 80 players, launched Brooklyn star Kyrie Irving, has formed and is campaigning for a non-return under the baskets: they argue that this return to competition comes after their engagement for the fight against racial and social injustice.
They may be "allowed" not to resume. In a directive to its members, revealed Tuesday June 16 by The Athletic, the NBA explains that"It is essential that each player understands that he has the right to choose not to replay." This applies both to the prejudices of certain players regarding the health conditions of this recovery and to the movement which is structured to denounce racism.
"Any player wishing to exercise this right must inform his team before June 24", said the NBA. Players can forfeit and they will not be penalized, but a salary reduction awaits them for each match not played.
In a message to ESPN, this group of about 80 players set out their priorities. In particular, they are calling for improved hiring practices for black candidates for leadership and coaching positions in the NBA, so that League management in this area better reflects its composition of predominantly black players.
The NBA has eight black general managers, four of whom are in charge of basketball operations, seven black coaches and a president, Masai Ujiri, who heads the defending champions Toronto Raptors.
The players also demand that donations be made to organizations serving the African-American community, as well as partnerships with black entrepreneurs.
“Refusing to play does not directly combat systemic racism”
Interviewed by ESPN, Avery Bradley, player of the Lakers (Los Angeles), expressed support for players wishing to take advantage of the exposure offered by the resumption of the championship in Orlando to speak about the problems of racism. But he felt that practical initiatives would have more impact, especially with "Help from the owners".
"Refusing to play does not directly combat systemic racismAvery Bradley told the sports channel. But it highlights the fact that without black athletes, the NBA would not be what it is today. The League has a duty to our communities by helping us to become independent, just as we have made the NBA brand strong. ”.
"Whatever the media coverage, talking and raising awareness against social injustice is not enough, added Avery Bradley. We don't need to say more. We have to find a way to do more. Protesting over a hymn, wearing t-shirts is great, but we have to see real actions taken. ”.
The player also invited the NBA itself to take action: “Don't put all the weight on your players to fix the problem. If you care about us, you cannot remain silent and withdrawn ”.
"Playing basketball again will not stop the protests", Former Lakers idol Magic Johnson said on Twitter on Tuesday. it’s a worldwide movement. This can be beneficial to players due to the large exposure they will have. ”.