The USA has seen a tectonic movement take the fore in the country in recent months. Citizens have united as one to protest against social justice and there's only one agenda they want to highlight, that Black Lives Matter. NBA players have been seriously involved in the movement and many stars have taken to the streets to oppose police brutality.
A major discussion heading into the NBA restart in Orlando was that it would take attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement and America would get distracted with live sports to watch. All the evidence from the NBA bubble so far has suggested that Black Lives Matter is the priority of the players.
League executives and team owners among others have ensured that Black Lives Matter won't become an afterthought in Orlando. And the players have already started acting for the sake of people of color. On that note, let us look at the gestures NBA players have made so far from the NBA bubble to support the Black Lives Matter movement.
#5 NBA and NBPA to form a $300 million foundation
The most recent step, as revealed by Chris Paul, is that talks between the NBA and the NBPA are in an advanced stage to start a foundation for social justice efforts. The foundation is likely to have $300 million to start and the players will be having a say as to where the money gets invested.
This is a great step because a monumental investment like this could bring about real social change. Furthermore, NBA players getting a say as to how the fund is used would allow them to throw light on matters they are passionate about, thereby ensuring active participation from them.
#4 New Orleans Pelicans' practice jerseys
Back in the 1968 Olympics, USA's Tommie Smith and John Carlos had finished first and third in the 200-meter running event. During the medal ceremony, both Smith and Carlos wore human-rights badges on their jackets.
Additionally, wearing black gloves, the duo rose their fists while the American national anthem played to protest against racial injustice. Smith and Carlos were suspended from the US Olympics Team and were even banned from the Olympic Games Village.
To show solidarity with their efforts from over half a century ago, the New Orleans Pelicans wore jerseys with the raised fist and the names "Smith/Carlos" at the back. Jrue Holiday even spoke about the same during media availability:
"For (John Carlos and Tommie Smith) to go up there and show black power and protest without saying a word, I feel like that means a lot, especially as a black man in sports. This is what I am here for."
#3 Toronto Raptors' arrival bus
The Toronto Raptors arrived inside the NBA bubble in Orlando on Thursday 9th July and immediately turned a lot of heads. The message written on the sides of their team buses was loud and clear: Black Lives Matter.
This move set the tone for the rest of the things to come in Orlando. Several players were impacted by this gesture and started discussing ways to bring attention to Black Lives Matter.
Matisse Thybulle, who has become extremely popular among the fans for his vlogs, was seen discussing ideas for this cause with Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris in one of his videos. We can rest assured that something will surely come out of those discussions soon.
#2 NBA players donate their salaries for Black Lives Matter
Several NBA players have already pledged the salary that they are supposed to receive for the remainder of the season to Black Lives Matter and related causes.
Dwight Howard will be donating to the Breathe Again foundation while Jrue Holiday is setting up a fund with wife Lauren for social justice. The Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund will be funneled by the Pelicans guard's $5.3 million that he is owed as salary for the NBA restart.
Additionally, Patty Mills will also be donating $1 million in salaries to three organizations, namely, Black Lives Matter Australia, Black Deaths in Custody, and the We Got You campaign.
#1 NBA players speaking about Breonna Taylor
In a trend that was started by Denver Nuggets' Jerami Grant, players have been responding to questions during media availability sessions by throwing light on Breonna Taylor. Her case has case grabbed a lot of eyeballs due to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot down in her home on March 13, 2020, by four officers of the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department who were executing a no-knock search warrant. Action is still pending against the accused.
Philly's Tobias Harris was the latest player to convey his message:
“I have given that a lot of thought and that is to continue to push the message – justice for Breonna Taylor. Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove need to be held accountable and we need justice for Breonna Taylor and I’ll continue to preach that message after every single game, so if you want to hear it I’m always here to do interviews and use my platform in the best way possible, but those individuals need to be held accountable. And that’s my message."
Several other players including LeBron James have thrown light on the incident and we're likely to hear more about it in the days to come.
Nothing can be more critical than NBA players directly asking for change when they have the attention of the media and this move is certainly commendable for Black Lives Matter.