Paul George: Clippers to show unity on social justice

Clippers teammates Paul George, left, and Patrick Beverley watch a game from the sideline earlier this season.
All-Star forward Paul George, shown at left on the sideline with teammate Patrick Beverley earlier this season, said Thursday that he expect NBA players, including the Clippers, to have a unified front in delivering social justice messages as the season resumes.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

With the NBA season officially resuming Thursday in Orlando, Fla., Clippers star Paul George expects players to present a unified front as a symbol of their focus on efforts to address racial injustice.

The league did not play either the American or Canadian national anthem before scrimmages in the last week, but that will change during Thursday’s official reopening-night doubleheader that features Utah vs. New Orleans and, later, the Lakers vs. Clippers.

“I think you’ll see a unity, I think you’ll see the league stand as one,” George said at the team’s shootaround Thursday. “You’ll get a glimpse of that shortly of what our message will be going forward.”


By rule, the NBA requires that players, coaches and trainers “must stand and line up in a dignified posture along the foul lines” during the American and Canadian anthems. But players plan to kneel during anthems, as The Times’ Broderick Turner reported July 24.

Coaches wore “Coaches for Racial Justice” pins during scrimmages and could take more action during the eight-game seeding portion of the schedule that precedes the playoffs.

“I really believe this — and I believe this for all of us what I call ‘old folks’: We need to follow the youth on this movement,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Monday. “We need to follow what they want to do and listen to what they want to do and say, and then follow them. And so as a coach, I’m going to do that. I’m going to let my players lead, and I’ll follow.”

In June, as part of a handbook issued to players for the restart, the league pledged that “a central goal of our season restart will be to utilize the NBA’s platform to bring attention and sustained action to issues of social injustice.” Viewers Thursday will see “Black Lives Matter” painted on the court and some of the 29 league-approved messages, including “Equality” and “I Can’t Breathe,” worn on the backs of jerseys.

The decision to demonstrate before tipoff Thursday came out of discussions held by players since the 22 teams arrived at the Disney World sports campus near Orlando three weeks ago.

“Growing up as a Black man, a Black kid, a Black teenager in America is tough,” Clippers forward Marcus Morris said. “You know what I’m saying? It could be a few decisions that change the course of your life. I’ve been in those points where I had to make different decisions where I did make my own decisions.

“This has definitely enabled me to talk to guys that had it OK growing up, a different perspective. You have white teammates, white people all around. For them to actually be in the meetings, listen, you know what I’m saying, understand where we’re coming from? It’s easy to talk about social injustice, but you’re not looking in a guy’s eye, see that pain, where he’s coming from. I think that’s big for everybody.”