This year’s 2019- 2020 NBA Season will be unlike any other in its history. Set at the Walt Disney World Complex in Orlando, Florida, the best 22 of the league's 30 teams will play eight games to finish the regular season in a week’s time.
The league’s restart plan faced many obstacles with initial concern over the health and safety of staff and players during COVID-19, but more recently about whether it was appropriate to bring back the NBA, a league with around 75 per cent black players, during a critical time in the Black Lives Matter movement. Many players voiced concern that the sport would distract from the important work that communities are doing in support of the movement.
In the end, both the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association negotiated that the season would resume with certain safety precautions in place, while keeping social justice issues at the forefront.
From players sporting jerseys with social justice messages, to using media time to talk about important racial inequality issues, it’s clear that the emphasis around the remainder of the season has shifted above and beyond the typical concerns around playoff time.
Some players have even pledged to dedicate their entire season to fighting racial inequality by donating their salaries from the remaining season to various causes.
San Antonio Spurs Patty Mills was one of the first to pledge his salary, donating just over $1 million dollars to numerous organizations tackling racial inequality in his home country of Australia.
“When allies who stand up and speak out against racism, although a small gesture, this is one of many actions that have a tremendous impact on the person being targeted because they feel the support,” stated Mills on his Twitter account.
Other notable players who have pledged to donate include Dwight Howard and Jrue Holiday.
“When it came down to it, it was me and my wife talking about what we could do to kind of further this movement and progression and being able to help out our community and just being able to help," Jrue Holiday told ESPN. Holiday’s game checks are worth up to $5.3 million.
In an article by Sportsnet, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that if the NBA is speaking change into existence and acting accordingly, he believes fans will apply that same passion to whatever role they can play into the movement.
Patty Mills salary pledge led to many others and raised millions of dollars for charitable organizations. It takes one single person to act in an altruistic fashion to influence others. One good deed can turn into hundreds of good deeds.
Players will being competing at Disney on July 30th. While teams will fight for the championship title, they will also be fighting together, for something far greater, off the basketball court.
One small act can make one big difference in a day, in a life.
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