As the NBA gets set to reconvene in Orlando, there has been a debate about whether playing basketball again at this time will be good or bad for the cause of social justice reform. Concerns have been raised league-wide, particularly from players, about whether the NBA would be a distraction from what is going on in the world right now, and not in a good way.
The flip-side to that, as some including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver have argued, is that the NBA can use its platform while at Disney World to create change. There are plans to paint 'Black Lives Matter' on the courts, players could use the spotlight to speak out and so forth.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks believes the latter side of the argument to be the case, that the league can do more while playing due to the visibility of the players and the sport. He spoke at length about the issue on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
"It's a great opportunity for all of us to be a part of this. We need change. I've been a player for a long time in the league and now a coach in the league. I understand one thing that is once you stop playing, it's just the hard, cold facts that people don't answer your phone calls. You don't get the voice that you did as a player," Brooks explained.
"That's speaking from experience from me. I know that the platform we will have as coaches and players and as an organization down in Orlando. People are starved for watching live sports. We all know that everybody loves the NBA. The platform that players and coaches will have down there is going to be a huge opportunity for all of us. One of the things that I'm proud of being in the NBA and being with the Wizards, we're going to use that platform."
Brooks illustrates the difficult decision for some players, especially those who haven't yet established the platform they strive for. It may not feel right for some to play basketball with more important things going on, but basketball can help them build their name and earn them money; two ingredients that can be used to create change in communities of need.
Brooks mentioned police brutality in particular as something the league needs to help eradicate. He fully supports his players in speaking out on that and other matters.
Brooks recently marched with Wizards and Mystics players on Juneteenth, the anniversary of when slavery ended in the United States.
"It's very important. We as players, as the coaching staff, as the organization; we want to be part of the change that is going to take place. Our players have done a great job of doing that. That march last week was one of my favorite moments being a Wizards coach," Brooks said.
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