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NBA Stars Join The Front Lines Of Protests

Sports

Portland Trailblazers' Damian Lillard, second from right, joins other demonstrators in Portland, Ore., during a protest against police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 after being restrained by police in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
By Avery Jacobs/BNC Contributor

A broad number of athletes and popular sports icons have issued statements on social media condemning the killing of George Floyd and other forms of police brutality against African-Americans. 

 

But given the history of police killing off unarmed innocent African-Americans, maybe social media wasn’t enough for some athletes.   

 

Several players apart of the National Basketball Association have now taken it a step further in their local communities. They’ve taken their eyes off the game of basketball, and put themselves in our shoes, joining the sprawling protests that have swept up our country over the past decades.

 

Players such as, James Harden, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and a handful of other athletes have gone lengths to show their support against social injustice in our community. 

 

Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook, explained in a tweet on social media how the state of Oklahoma made him view things differently. 

Photo Taken : Mark Medina USA TODAY

“Spending 11 years in Oklahoma opened my eyes to the rich and sordid history of the state. When I learned about the heartbreaking events that happened in in Tulsa nearly 100 years ago, I knew this was a story I wanted to tell,” said the former MVP. “It’s upsetting that the atrocities that transpired then, are still so relevant today. It’s important we uncover the buried stories of African Americans in this country. We must amplify them now more than ever if we want to create change moving forward.”   

 

The NBA is becoming a socially conscious league that has fought against injustice for decades stretching back to Bill Russell days with the Boston Celtics, and the all black “I can’t breathe” movement with T-shirts in reference to Eric Gardner, and when the Miami Heat wore all black hoodies for the killing of Trayvon Martin 2012. 

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 08: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers wears an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt during warmups before his game against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2014 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX *** ORG XMIT: 508084817 ORIG FILE ID: 460164370

But nothing about this is new news to Black Americans. Issues in this country have sparked an outrage from figures around the NBA for a while now.

Police brutality and the killing of Black people is an issue that has touched many Black communities in the United States, and players who play in a predominantly Black leagues have been keen to speak on these issues for several years.   

 

Jaylen Brown, a rising star for the Boston Celtics drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to take part in protests. Brown, who attended high school in Georgia, encouraged others to join him through a tweet on social media.  

 

“Atlanta don’t meet me there beat me there come walk with me bring your own signs.” He also added in an Instagram post, “First and foremost, I’m a black man and I’m a member of this community… We’re raising awareness for some of the injustices that we’ve been seeing.” 

 

27-year-old, Malcolm Brogdon of the Indiana Pacers, also joined protests in Atlanta. He expressed his feelings as his grandfather was part of a movement with the late Dr. King in the 60s.  

 

“He would be proud to see us all here,” said Brogdon. 

 

Since Floyd’s death teams have also released statements on social media. The Washington Wizards released a statement on their team website on behalf of its players – in capital letters. 

 

“WE WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE THE ASSASSINATION OF PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THIS COUNTRY,” adding, “WE WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT THE ABUSE OF POWER FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT.” 

 

As the NBA continue to make a push to return in late July, stars like Lebron James have responded by spotlighting the protests and even joining them, but will this continue as the league gets ready to start back up? 

 

Unlike the National Football League, the NBA has a rule that requires players to stand during the national anthem, banning them from kneeling like most NFL players have done in the past. But could this become a trend in the NBA as well, despite the rule?