WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Players and officials showed Black Lives Matter movement support during tipoff in an NBA game between Pelicans and Jazz.
- While an NBA rule requires all players to stand while the national anthem is playing, Adam Silver explained that the organization also supports meaningful and peaceful protests.
- In a joint statement, both the Pelicans and Jazz call for a reform in social justice and law enforcement.
It is now official; the NBA is back.
The NBA isolation season emphasized the importance of social equality and the Black Lives Matter initiative. The game started with a united statement from the league’s players and game officials to Thursday’s game tipoff between the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans.
While a recorded version of the national anthem by Jon Batiste played, all players and referees on the court knelt while some players raised their fists.
Technically speaking, NBA rules do not allow kneeling while the national anthem is playing. In this case, though, the officials and players made sure that the message of protest against police violence and social inequality.
During a Time 100 talk in June, NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained that while a rule was written on the NBA handbook that requires players to stand in line while the national anthem is played, the league also recognizes the importance of protest.
The commissioner released a statement after the tipoff, saying that the organization will not enforce the ruling considering the exceptional case where NBA teams are united in holding a peaceful protest calling for social justice.
As part of the reopening talks, players expressed their wish to make social equality a focus of the bubble season following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis while under arrest. At least three courts in the bubble are inscribed with “Black Lives Matter,” messages, and players were given the option to put social justice symbols on their uniforms.
A few minutes after tipoff, the Pelicans said in a statement that the team supports freedom of speech and the right to assemble peacefully, and along with Utah Jazz, they are united with the NBA behind the players and coaches.
The New Orleans organization also calls for reform over racial equality and social justice. It joins with players, coaches, and staff and in creating a Social Justice Leadership Alliance dedicated to expanding the efforts to make a purposeful change in the public and the country.
The silent protest on Thursday came after rap artist Meek Mill opened the show at TNT with a social equality message.
The rapper served jail time until 2018 because of a debatable prison sentence over violations of probation conditions.
One of the first things he did after prison was attending an NBA game of Philadelphia 76ers.