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Following a multi-team strike protesting police brutality and systemic racism in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake, players and league officials reached a deal Friday not only to resume the NBA playoffs, but to use the league's stadiums as voting locations for the November general election.
Why strike, a lot of people asked? The players have used their leverage with the owners to turn the NBA into a get-out-the-vote organization, aiming to use stadiums as polling places, among other things. https://t.co/gnWHKU61n5— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) August 28, 2020
In a statement, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver listed three developments that resulted from talks with players and league leaders last week.
The deal includes establishing a social justice coalition - with representatives from players, coaches, and governors - to be focused on "increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform." In addition, the league will sponsor advertising spots during each playoff game "promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity."
The portion of the deal that has earned the most attention is the agreement to use NBA stadiums as voting centers in the upcoming November election.
"In every city where the league franchise owns and controls the arena property, team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID," the statement reads. "If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards."
Players, journalists, and civil rights advocates celebrated the announcement as details continue to emerge about the police shooting of 29-year-old Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Blake is alive and recovering in a hospital but is paralyzed from the waist down, according to his family. At a protest decrying his shooting last Tuesday night, a white 17-year-old gunman killed two people and injured another.
"We're all tired of just seeing the same thing over and over again," Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul said in an interview. "And everybody just expects us to be OK just because we get paid great money. We're human. We have real feelings and I'm glad we got a chance to get in a room together to talk to one another."
"Just because something hasn't happened doesn't mean it can't happen," Doc Rivers, former NBA player and coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, told Yahoo! Sports. "Don't give into something that hasn't happened. Keep pushing, keep working."
"We needed a moment to breathe. It's not lost on me that George Floyd didn't get that moment. But we did, and we took it, and the players took it . . . I slept very well last night, thinking that our young people spoke. That was fantastic."
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