Lately, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has fielded concerns on when the season will resume and if the league can implement enough safety measures to protect everyone involved from the novel coronavirus outbreak.
During the weekend, though, Silver shifted gears and spent his time processing the nationwide protests surrounding George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, all of whom were black and unarmed before being killed.
"As a league, we share the outrage and offer our sincere condolences to their families and friends," Silver wrote Sunday night in a memo to league office employees obtained by USA TODAY Sports. "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. 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."
On Monday, Floyd was detained after being suspected of trying to pay with a counterfeit bill at a convenience store in Minneapolis. Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes even as he contended he couldn't breath. In late February, Arbery was shot in Atlanta by Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis, both of whom are white, after they mistakenly thought he was a burglary suspect. On March 13, police shot at Taylor several times after receiving a warrant to enter her Louisville apartment amid suspicions a pair of drug dealers has used her home to receive packages.
That prompted prominent NBA and WNBA stars, coaches and executives to release statements condemning the disturbing trend of unarmed black people being killed by either white citizens or law enforcement.
"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."
To that end, the NBA plans to host a "Dream in Color virtual community conversation" on Wednesday. Unlike the NFL, the NBA requires players to stand during the national anthem, but Silver has encouraged players’ efforts both to speak out on social issues and participate in any charitable causes. When embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist statements caught on tape before the 2014 NBA playoffs, Silver immediately condemned his actions and issued him a lifetime ban.
"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 wrote Sunday. "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 held a Board of Governors meeting Friday to discuss varying schedule and logistical proposals to resume the season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando in late July. The NBA is expected to announce details this week. Perhaps then, the league will announce the varying initiatives to help address racial inequality and police brutality.
"Even in this sad and difficult time, I know we can," Silver wrote. "For our colleagues, friends and family members affected time and time again by these acts of violence, we must. We always say that sports have often been the bridge in society that helps build trust and empathy so we can face hard truths and real challenges together. That is our responsibility, especially now."