Along with endorsing players putting social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, the NBA is working with the players union to paint “Black Lives Matter” on both sides of the courts in Walt Disney World arenas, where the league will play when it resumes its coronavirus-paused season in late-July. Despite the league’s efforts to incorporate social justice themed protests into its games, some players are still planning on opting out of playing in order to focus on activism.
The NBA’s Disney courts decision follows players “insist[ing] that the fight for racial equality and social justice be a central part of the NBA’s return to play and the WNBA’s new season,” as well as several players stating they plan to stay off the court when play resumes “to focus on social justice issues,” ESPN reports.
“The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are planning to paint ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the court inside both sidelines in all three arenas the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season late next month in Orlando, Florida,” ESPN reported this week, citing league sources.
Sources told the network that the WNBA is also considering painting the slogan on the sides of courts at the IMG Academy in Florida, where the WNBA’s season will resume. Along with the reference to the far-left organization behind recent protests and riots, the WNBA is considering including the phrase “Say Her Name,” a reference to Breonna Taylor, who was shot dead by police in March, on the backs of their jerseys.
NBA players have also been given the greenlight to include social justice-themed statements on the backs of their jerseys, a move first reported following a conference call with the press on Friday that including union leaders from both leagues. The leagues, they said, were in discussions with the union to allow players to put their own messages on their jerseys in order to “call attention to racial equality, social justice and police brutality,” ESPN reported.
CBS Sports‘ Sam Quinn praised that decision as “powerful,” but argued that it “puts the onus on players.” The decision by the league to paint the politically charged slogan on its sidelines makes clear that the league stands fully behind the players’ activist message. “The league itself needed to send a message of solidarity, and is doing so with its latest decision,” Quinn writes.
Multiple players have announced that they plan to sit out the Disney games, some citing coronavirus fears, but others specifically stating that they are sitting out so they can focus their attention on social justice activism.
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