Celtics

Maxwell: How NBA players can continue fighting for change in bubble

Celtics

The shooting of an unarmed Black man Sunday took a toll on NBA players who have used their platforms in Orlando to advocate for social justice but felt helpless as they watched a white police officer shoot Jacob Blake seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisc.

Three days later, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to act, boycotting their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday and prompting the postponement of several other contests -- including Thursday's Celtics Raptors Game 1 -- as players mulled whether to leave the bubble altogether.

Players reportedly have decided to continue playing, but how can they make sure their voices and actions lead to real change?

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Former Boston Celtics star and radio color analyst Cedric Maxwell joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand" on Thursday to offer his thoughts.

"I'm so proud of these young players (for) actually taking a stance, but I think they also need to have a streamlined message," Maxwell said. "What is your ultimate goal?"

Maxwell understands why some players don't want to play games and focus instead on calling attention to systemic racism in America. But he believes players have a "microphone" in the bubble that they can continue to use to advocate for change, even if it doesn't happen overnight.

 
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"Racism wasn't created yesterday, and you're not going to stop it in one day," Maxwell said. "Players have to be brickmasons. Brick by brick, they make points.

"Somebody asked me, 'What's the difference between Muhammad Ali or your time when you played?' Players right now have social media. They have millions of people following them. And on top of that, they have economic power.

"When you look at a guy like LeBron James, who has enough money to go in and build a school in Akron and educate people, that is how you change the system."

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Maxwell also believes players should unify the messages on the backs of their jerseys to highlight one call to action.

"If I was doing one thing in the NBA that would be different in the bubble now, I'd put one thing on the back of jerseys: That would be to vote," Maxwell said. "That's how you change situations to get people in who you want to get policies to go forward."

Check out Maxwell's full interview on "Zolak & Bertrand" below.