The Kings have been at the forefront of advocating for social change long before there was an NBA bubble. Faced with the officer-involved shooting death of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, the franchise as a whole became part of a much larger story when protestors surrounded Golden 1 Center during March of 2018.
Since that moment, the Kings have taken an aggressive stance, pushing for societal change on multiple fronts. They’ve supported their players having a voice, they’ve walked together during protests and they’ve done well with their “Team Up for Change” initiative, which opens lines of communication between community leaders, youth and law enforcement.
During a recent taping of “Squawk Talk” on CNBC, Chris Kelly, a former Facebook executive and current member of the Kings’ ownership group fielded questions about the NBA’s push to boycott games and the players’ demands for social change.
“We started with the Stephon Clark situation in Sacramento, but you’ve seen the George Floyd protest -- everything every other day,” Kelly said. “When there’s a new name added to these lists, Breonna Taylor, it needs to stop. The frustration that the players feel is something that is felt broadly amongst the ownership group too. We want to see change.”
Players nearly walked away from the NBA bubble last week after another officer-involved shooting of a Black man took place in Kenosha, Wis. Video captured 29-year-old Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by police as he attempted to get into his vehicle, which was carrying his three small children in the back seat.
“It’s time for a radical change when you have unarmed Black motorists often being killed by police,” Kelly said. “That’s just not acceptable in America. We have to fix that. That’s what the players are saying and there’s broad agreement among ownership about that too.”
Kelly, who unsuccessfully ran for California Attorney General in 2010 against now Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, has seen the growing tidal wave of momentum building toward meaningful change.
He supports the players in their drive to draw attention to racial and social injustice in America and as a minority owner, he wants to work in conjunction with them.
“When we agreed to open up again in Orlando, having a social justice platform was a significant part of that,” Kelly said. “And we just want to continue that work, and we think that we’ll be able to do that in partnership with the players.”
The players aren’t alone in their frustrations. Owners around the league are jumping in to support the movement for social change and one of those avenues is to expand voting in the upcoming election.
From Oct. 24 to Nov. 3, the Kings will convert Golden 1 Center into a giant voting center. Sacramentans will be able to come to the arena to register, update registration, get ballots to take home, receive language assistance, turn in their completed ballot and even cast their vote in-person.
Since the Kings announced their plans, professional sports franchises around the United States have followed suit.
“We’re ready to do more and we’re ready to do more in partnership with the players,” Kelly added.
Nothing is going to change overnight, but there is real potential for transformation and NBA players and owners are on the same page forging ahead in the effort.