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NBA Stars Kneel Against Racism in Season’s Reboot

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August 3, 2020 1:43 pm

NBA - Season Restarts Amid Covid

After a four-and-a-half-month suspension for the coronavirus, the NBA resumed its season Thursday with a strong message. Against racism from its players and coaches, who knelt during the U.S. anthem in the opening two games.

In an unusual gesture in the NBA, and forbidden in its regulations, stars like LeBron James and Kahwi Leonard along with all their teammates formed a single line. They knelt in unison on the court when the pre-game anthem began to play.

Many players listened to the performance with their heads bowed. And others intertwined their arms in a symbol of unity, LeBron James did with Anthony Davis, the other Lakers star.

The players wore black T-shirts with the slogan “Black Lives Matter”. They also engrave in the centre of the spectator-free court at Disney World’s Orlando sports complex.

The league and the players pledged that this end of their season, despite the isolated circumstances. In the Disney World “bubble,” will contribute to the current anti-racism protests triggered by the crime of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a white cop two months ago.

Although its rules have required players to stand during anthem performance since the early 1980s, the commissioner Adam Silver said that “under these unique circumstances,” the league will not act against the teams.

“I respect the unified act of peaceful protest by our teams for social justice,” Silver said in a brief statement.

Messages instead of names                              

The gesture of kneeling has become one of the symbols of the massive demonstrations. It stands for racial equity and an end to police brutality that have taken place in the United States, and other countries in recent months.

This type of protest was popularised in 2016 by American football player Colin Kaepernick, who was once the subject of harsh criticism, including from President Donald Trump, and was never hired by any NFL team again.

“With what’s going on in our country. I think it’s critical that all of us, in a unified way, turn our attention to social justice,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder, interviewed during the game.

In the first game of the day, in which the Utah Jazz beat the New Orleans Pelicans 106-104, rookie Zion Williamson wore the word “Peace” on his uniform. At the same time, both his Pelicans Lonzo Ball teammate and Utah Jazz French centre Rudy Gobert opted for “Equality.

The second and final game of the day then began, between the Lakers and the Clippers. It starred Lebron James and Kawhi Leonard preferring to keep their names on the jerseys.

Jazz gets its first win

The first basket of the season’s restart scored by Gobert. His coronavirus infection forced the abrupt suspension of the season on March 11.

His team, the Jazz, won the first game in a tight final in which forward Brandon Ingram missed a triple in the final seconds to give New Orleans the win.

The game’s leading scorer was Jazz backup guard Jordan Clarkson, who had 23 points. At the same time, teammates Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley scored 20, each. Rudy Gobert had 14 units and 12 rebounds.

For the Pelicans, Ingram scored 23 points and veteran shooting guard JJ Reddick another 21. At the same time, Zion Williamson, with only practises after his return to the “bubble”, made 13 points in just 15 minutes.

The Pelicans are in tenth place in the Western Conference. They are looking to take advantage of the eight regular-season games at Disney World. They catch up with the Memphis Grizzlies, who are in eighth place. The last one to qualify for the playoffs, which begin August 17.

With daily coronavirus testing and a myriad of restrictions, the NBA has created a secure environment at Disney World. To safeguard players from the pandemic, which has already claimed more than 150,000 lives in the United States.

Courts also have adapted to prevent risks, with responsibility. They are controlling the games separated from the teams by a window.

Bench seats have spaced farther apart, and although not mandatory. Some people wear masks during the game, such as Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry, one of the league’s oldest at 65.

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