OKC Thunder players join many of their NBA peers in an outpouring of empathy and calls for reforms to justice and racial inequity.
Players from the OKC Thunder as well as the franchise are actively engaging fans on social media with messages to encourage conversations that will expedite justice reform and result in meaningful change.
When it comes to major sports leagues the NBA community has always been at the forefront of sensitive issues. More than five decades ago Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sat at a table with Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown fighting for racial and social justice. Today, NBA players are speaking out with the same end goal in mind. The difference is social media makes their comments immediate and allows for a greater number of players to reach the masses in real-time.
While sports superstars have often used their platform to encourage growth in humanity not all leagues have supported their efforts. Just ask Colin Kaepernick. While the NFL elected to ostracize Kaepernick for taking a stance on this very subject the NBA is not only embracing the role they can play in encouraging conversations on reform and justice for all, they are encouraging it.
Monday marked a week since police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck causing his death. This past weekend protestors marched all across America and in Canada.
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown organized a peaceful protest in Georgia driving 15 hours to lead it. He was joined by Milwaukee Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon. Stephen Jackson, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Josh Okogie marched in Minnesota where Floyd was killed. Enes Kanter, Marcus Smart, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and many others participated in marches.
As noted, the NBA brain trust unlike the NFL is encouraging this common stance. On Sunday, Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all teams. The full memo can be viewed via Ramona Shelburne’s article on ESPN, but the following is an excerpt from his memo:
I am heartened by the many members of the NBA and WNBA family – – players, coaches, legends, team owners and executives at all levels — speaking out to demand justice urging peaceful protest and working 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. We will work hand-in-hand to create programs and build partnerships in every NBA community that address racial inequity and bring people together.
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. This is our responsibility especially now.
Several players and teams had already posted on social media prior to Silver’s memo. And, as of this posting, every team (except the Knicks) has posted on social media either directly from the franchise and in some cases from a player, coach, or owner. Each team’s post can be viewed via this link to the NBA official site.
OKC Thunder players engage social media in active support for change:
The OKC Thunder official statement was posted on Twitter late Monday.
As for the Thunder players, the majority have actively been posting on social media on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. Other than Nerlens Noel, Mike Muscala and Kevin Hervey (who aren’t active on social media) everyone else has either posted a personal message and/or retweeted other poignant comments.
This morning, many posted an image of a black box on their Instagram accounts with a hashtag and two words #BlackoutTuesday. Several also displayed the video of Dennis Schroder’s video of his shorn locks which ran in his Instagram story with an opening slide of “Black Lives Matter”.
Below is a sampling from their social accounts but again if you visit the player’s accounts you’ll find support for change.
Paul also posted a video of a young girl in a crowd telling a police officer she has lost three brothers to brutality and is asking why they are being bothered when they are simply on the grass peacefully protesting. Of note: there is NSFW language.
Luguentz Dort posted an Instagram story from the protest in Montreal, Canada asking the question: “What really went down?” Dort links to a site with numerous videos and messages with details on how the protest turned from peaceful protesting to rioting.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has posted both on this Instagram and Twitter accounts. The above NBA article displayed his tweet instead of the organization’s official statement.
Two-way contracted player Isaiah Roby elected to focus on the positive and how important it is for dialogue.
The association isn’t wasting any time to be active with Silver inviting teams to participate in a virtual community conversation called “Dream in color” on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
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Other factions of the league are also moving quickly. All 30 coaches participated in a call this past weekend, and a committee drafted a statement that included the signatures of 33 current or former head coaches and 180 assistant coaches as per ESPN sage Adrian Wojnarowski.
Hawks Head Coach, Lloyd Pierce is spearheading an initiative led by a committee that includes Doc Rivers, Monty Williams, Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr. Their goal is to directly impact racial injustice and reform in each NBA community.
With Adam Silver calling for the League to remain active and be leaders for positive and peaceful change in each team community players will feel free to continue posting and keeping the conversation open.
It’s also likely, OKC Thunder captain Chris Paul will be actively involved in initiatives given his roles as NBPA President especially with how often the two are speaking frequently regarding the league’s return plans.