NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed league employees on the protests seen across the country this week, resolving to use the NBA’s platform to fight racial injustice in an internal memo obtained by Yahoo Sports.
Directly mentioning the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, Silver said the league shared in the outrage and offered condolences to their families and friends. Silver drew direct lines between the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the current injustice seen by the black community.
“Just as we are fighting a pandemic, which is impacting communities and people of color more than anyone else, we are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed,” Silver said. “Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored. At the same time, those who serve and protect our communities honorably and heroically are again left to answer for those who don’t.”
Silver said he was “heartened” by the dozens of players, coaches and other league figures who have spoken out, specifically mentioning “peaceful” protest and work for meaningful change.
“Together with our teams and players, we will continue our efforts to promote inclusion and bridge divides through collective action, civic engagement, candid dialogue and support for organizations working toward justice and equality,” Silver said. “We will work hand-in-hand to create programs and build partnerships in every NBA community that address racial inequity and bring people together.”
Silver also acknowledged that the plight of the black community is something he and many other league employees have not had to face.
“This moment also requires greater introspection from those of us, including me, who may never know the full pain and fear many of our colleagues and players experience every day,” Silver said. “We have to reach out, listen to each other and work together to be part of the solution. And as an organization, we need to do everything in our power to make a meaningful difference.”
The memo finished with a call to participate in a virtual community conversation of the NBA’s “Dream in Color” diversity initiative, asking for ideas and suggestions.
The full memo can be seen below:
How NBA has reacted to George Floyd’s death
The NBA itself has not yet publicly addressed the situation, though more than half of its teams and team ownership groups have released statements denouncing Floyd’s death in police custody and resolving to stand against the systemic racism it signifies. The WNBA has also posted a call for change.
NBA players have been on the forefront of speaking out against Floyd’s death and calling for action. Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon both took part in a peaceful protest in Atlanta on Saturday, and former NBA player Royce White led a sizable march that took over a Minneapolis interstate.
LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Dwyane Wade are among the superstars to express their outrage, but one of the loudest voices has been former NBA wing Stephen Jackson, who was close to Floyd before his death.
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