NBA Players Get Owners To Commit To Turning Arenas Into Voting Sites

Screengrab / The Los Angeles Times / YouTube

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In addition, the league and union agreed to establish a “social justice coalition” of players, coaches and owners.

NBA playoffs will resume on Saturday after players began a strike on Wednesday in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. The New York Daily News reports that in that time, the players succeeded in getting owners to commit to turning as many arenas as possible into voting sites for the November election.

  • The league and union’s Friday announcement that playoffs will resume on Saturday also “included a concrete promise from the league. Every team-owned arena will turn into a polling place for the November election in locations where that’s still legally possible in order for voters to have a large, COVID-safe place to vote in person.”
  • In a joint statement, the two sides said, “If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards.”
  • The Daily News reported that three teams — the Bucks, Pistons and Hawks — had already made such a commitment earlier this summer, with the Rockets following suit on Thursday.

Chris Paul, the Thunder point guard and longtime union president, gave an emotional interview to bubble media after the announcement.

“In 15 years in the league, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Paul said. “Everyone expects us to go out and play. I get it. But we needed some time,” he said, adding that he had spoken to Jacob Blake’s father.

  • The Daily News noted that “Paul got the entire Oklahoma City roster registered to vote earlier this week, according to a report,” and has “led the way on pushing voting as a specific response to police violence after it was reported that only 20% of the league was registered to vote.”
  • “The Bucks started a wave of strikes and protests in American sports on Wednesday when they refused to play that afternoon’s playoff game over the police shooting of Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday,” according to the report.

The two sides agreed to establish a “social justice coalition” of players, coaches and owners. Along with increasing access to voting, the coalition is focused on “promoting civil engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.”

“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” the statement read.

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