Tue, 29 Sep 2020

All players, coaches kneel before NBA game

Field Level Media
31 Jul 2020, 09:40 GMT+10

Every person present at HP Fieldhouse on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando knelt during the national anthem before the first game of the NBA's restarted season on Thursday night.

All players, coaches and staff members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz, along with all officials, wore shirts reading "BLACK LIVES MATTER," which was also printed on the court. Many locked arms with those next to them, while some players raised fists in the air.

The anthem was performed virtually by Louisiana native Jon Batiste, who played a rendition with a mix of piano and guitar.

Before the anthem, the TNT broadcast aired an introductory segment narrated by rapper Meek Mill, promoting social justice initiatives and the BLM movement, followed by a segment with several NBA players speaking on the subject.

Players displayed a variety of social justice messages on the backs of their jerseys, including "Black Lives Matter," "Say Their Names" and "I Can't Breathe."

The game was the first in four-plus months since the regular season was suspended in March.

The Pelicans issued a statement that read, "The New Orleans Pelicans stand by the ideals of freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest. Collectively with the Utah Jazz, our organization joins the NBA in supporting our players and coaches. To promote meaningful change relative to social justice and racial equality, the New Orleans Pelicans have partnered with our players, staff and coaches to create a Social Justice Leadership Alliance committed to furthering the discussion, listening and taking action to make positive change in our community and our country."

The Jazz wrote in a statement, "The Utah Jazz are committed to advancing social justice and stand in support of the players, coaches and staff as they exercise their First Amendment rights, and use their voices, their experiences, and their platforms to peacefully express themselves. We are a values-based organization and believe in the foundational principles of justice, equality, fairness, and economic empowerment. Our organization strives to be a unifying force in our communities, and we hope this time in our history can be a catalyst for positive change in a country we love."

--Field Level Media

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