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The NBA can resume. Three days after the historic player boycott in reaction to the Jacob Blake affair, an action plan, involving the league and team owners, was put in place to step up the fight against racial injustice.
A telephone meeting lasting several hours on Thursday August 27 made it possible to reach an agreement to resume the NBA competition. “All parties have agreed to resume play-off games on Saturday,” wrote NBA and Players Union (NBPA) bosses Adam Silver and Michelle Roberts, saying they had “a frank, passionate and productive conversation on Thursday between players, coaches and franchise owners regarding next steps to deepen our collective efforts and actions in favor of social justice and racial equality“.
The presence of Michael Jordan as mediator during this interview with the franchise owners – himself being the only black to be so with the Charlotte Hornets -, was decisive, even though the players had voted that same morning. for the recovery.
>> See also: a long tradition of protest among American athletes
Three axes and civic engagement
The result was a plan of action, on the very day of the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington led by Martin Luther King to defend the civil rights of African Americans. It is based on three main axes
“1. The immediate creation of a coalition for social justice, composed of representatives of players, coaches and owners, which will focus on a broad spectrum of issues, including access to the vote, the promotion of civic duties , and advocating meaningful reform of the police and criminal justice system. “
“2. The franchise owners, who also own the room, will work with local elected officials to turn it into polling stations for the 2020 presidential election, so that communities exposed to Covid can go and vote there in complete safety. will also work for other uses in elections, which include and are not limited to voter registration and vote counting. “
“3. The League will work with players and broadcasters to create and include commercials during each play-off match, dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement for the elections, and raising awareness of the rights of voters. “
“The last few days have been really, really emotional for everyone. I have to give the players a lot of credit. It’s been a tough time. Everyone saw that the guys needed to refocus, and that’s what we did, “said Chris Paul (Oklahoma City), co-chair of the NBPA who, along with a small group of players including LeBron James, consulted with Barack Obama to determine the way forward.
On Wednesday, shocked by the fate of Blake who was shot several times in the back during his arrest in Kenosha, not far from Milwaukee, their city of residence, the Bucks players boycotted the game against the Magic of Orlando.
This forced the NBA to postpone it, as well as Houston-Oklahoma City, Lakers-Portland, also scheduled for that day, and Toronto-Boston, Clippers-Dallas, Denver-Utah scheduled for Thursday. It is in this order that the matches will resume, the three of Wednesday, Saturday, and those of Thursday, Sunday.
Other sports leagues affected
Following in the footsteps of the NBA, teams from other sports leagues, baseball (MLB), ice hockey (NHL), football (MLS), women’s basketball (WNBA), have also stopped playing. The Cincinnati tennis tournament followed suit on Thursday, showing the unprecedented movement.
George Floyd’s ordeal at the end of May had upset NBA basketball players, some like Kyrie Irving, star of the Brooklyn Nets, believing that it was not necessary to resume the championship, precisely to act better against this scourge.
The overwhelming majority of the players ultimately chose to go to Florida, and the NBA made sure they were able to be proactive in their fight, allowing them to drop on the knee during the national anthem, posting “Black Lives Matter” on the floors, giving them a voice to demand justice.
But the Jacob Blake case convinced them that more needed to be done. “Change doesn’t happen just by speaking !! It happens through action and must happen NOW! (…) It’s up to the United States to make a difference. Together. That’s why your vote is + More than a vote +. Black Lives Matter, “LeBron James tweeted Thursday.