The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are planning to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the court inside both sidelines in all three arenas the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season late next month in Orlando, Florida, league sources told ESPN.
The WNBA is also discussing painting “Black Lives Matter” on the court when it begins its abbreviated 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, sources said.
Players have insisted that the fight for racial equality and social justice be a central part of the NBA’s return to play and the WNBA’s new season. Several NBA players considered skipping the NBA’s resumption to focus on social justice issues. Several WNBA players, including Renee Montgomery of the Atlanta Dream and Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics, are sitting out the upcoming WNBA season to focus on social justice.
On a conference call with reporters Friday, leaders of both the NBA and the NBPA said the league and union were discussing several ways to use the NBA’s platform in Orlando to call attention to racial equality, social justice and police brutality. Over the weekend, Chris Paul, president of the players’ union, told ESPN that the league and union were collaborating to allow players to wear uniforms with personalized messages linked to social justice on the backs of their jerseys in place of players’ last names.
The killing of George Floyd while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis — with one officer, Derek Chauvin, since charged with second-degree murder after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes as Floyd reiterated that he could not breathe — spurred nationwide protests. It followed the killings of Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased down by three white men and shot by one of them during a jog in Georgia in late February. All three men were indicted on murder charges last week.
Several high-profile players in both leagues participated in protests around the country.