The NBA playoffs are back in action after a league-wide shutdown in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, thanks in part to a pledge from team owners to support social justice causes.
Among the promises announced on Friday morning were the formation of a social justice coalition, arenas being used as voting locations for the 2020 general election and pro-voting advertising spots during playoff broadcasts.
While the agreement was seen as a welcome step forward, Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, one of the league’s most outspoken players, isn’t entirely convinced the owners will follow through.
From ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:
"I'm not sure," Brown said on a Zoom conference call Saturday afternoon. "I can't speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself, and I am not sure. I'm not as confident as I would like to be, I'll say that.
"I think promises are made year after year. We've heard a lot of these terms and words before. We heard them in 2014 -- reform. We're still hearing them now. A lot of them are just reshaping the same ideas and nothing is actually taking place. Long-term goals are one thing, but I think there's stuff in our wheelhouse as athletes with our resources and the people that we're connected to that short-term effect is possible as well.
"Everybody keeps saying, 'Change is going to take this, change is going to take that.' That's the incrementalism idea that keeps stringing you along to make you feel like something's going to happen, something's going to happen. People were dying in 2014, and it's 2020 and people are still dying the same way. They keep saying 'reform, reform, reform,' and ain't nothing being reformed. I'm not as confident as I would like to be."
One reason behind Brown’s skepticism is reportedly his belief that the owners fell short with their pledge for arenas to be opened as voting locations. Only arenas owned by the team that occupies them are included in the pledge, rather than all 29 arenas as initially agreed.
The Celtics’ own TD Garden will also not be used as a voting location, as they reportedly missed a deadline for registration.
Brown has been a central figure in the NBA’s protests and outcry following Blake’s shooting. He had one of the most powerful reactions the day after the shooting, questioning whether Black people are even treated like real human beings in America.
As NBA players hunkered down following their walkout and discussed whether or not to prematurely end the season, Brown reportedly challenged them on whether or not they would use their new time off to actually push for change or just stay at home.
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