NBA, players' union outline joint 'meaningful action' plan in letter

ByBrian Windhorst ESPN logo
Friday, September 23, 2016

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have worked together over the past several days to create a plan for handling potential protests by players during the national anthem, sources told

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and union executive director Michele Roberts on Wednesdaysent a joint letter to all players. In the document, obtained by ESPN, the two sides pledged to work together to find a way to take "meaningful action" in NBA cities in the wake of the unrest in the country over police shootings and related incidents.

The sides are hoping to build on the series of town hall events and meetings with local police officials, such as one led by Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles in July, to continue building bonds of trust between law enforcement, players and communities.

In the letter, Silver and Roberts pledged to seek the opinions of players during training camp as they look to develop programs as the new season begins.

Players have been seeking guidance from the union over the last several weeks in the wake of protests during the national anthem in the NFL. It is against NBA rules to not stand for the anthem. The league is not currently planning to change the rule, sources said. But Silver has supported players' desire to make social commentary in the past.

Last season several players violated league uniform rules by wearing "I Can't Breathe" shirts in warm-ups after the police action-related death of Eric Garner in New York, but they were not fined.

Several WNBA players have kneeled during the anthem over the last several weeks, and Wednesday the entire Indiana Fever team kneeled during the anthem before a playoff game. None of the WNBA players have been fined as the league is giving them space.

Silver and a group of owners who make up the labor relations committee have been regularly meeting with Roberts and her staff in recent months to work on a new collective bargaining agreement. Those talks have been productive, and there is optimism that the sides may be able to work out a new deal by December, sources said.

On Thursday, Golden State Warriors general manager and president of basketball operations Bob Myers said his team would reach out to civic leaders in the Bay Area and invite them to a panel discussion or other sessions with the team to help educate the players and the organization on social issues.

Myers said he has plenty to learn.

"My only experience with any type of negative stereotype or interaction is being white trying to go play basketball. That's it, in my life, I will tell you, and that is no standing to understand what it's like for guys to grow up not white or African-American or whatever you are,'' Myers said. "That's the only time in my life where I can say I'm actually judged negatively where they go, 'This guy can't play, he's white.' That's it, and that doesn't even count. That's stupid. It's very good that there's been a heightened awareness.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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