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Magic Johnson, Adam Silver say NBA can return and fight for social justice

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, talks with Magic Johnson as they watch a Clippers-Thunder game in 2014.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, talks with Magic Johnson as they watch a Clippers-Thunder game in 2014. The two took part Tuesday in a discussion about improving racial equality.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

In the eyes of Lakers and NBA legend Magic Johnson, there has to be a continued fight against racial injustice and a united front with NBA players in deciding to restart the season in Orlando next month.

Johnson talked about those sensitive topics Tuesday during the “NBA Together Virtual Roundtable Session” on Twitter with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and host Caron Butler.

Johnson said the momentum taking place with protests around the country about police brutality won’t stop if the NBA resumes.

“I think that it can give it even some more juice because of the big platform that the players have in the NBA,” he said. “… I think that the guys have to understand that this is a chance for the guys, for them to sit down together and bring about change and how they can do that as a group.

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“They can do it as an individual and in their own cities and states that they play in or live in. But also too, they can together and say, ‘Let’s support this group or let’s do this together or let’s create this together.’ Black Lives Matter will continue. The protest will continue with the NBA playing. It’s not going to stop. …You have to remember, this is a world-wide movement and so nothing is going to stop. It will continue.

“And then when the guys are there, let’s get together, huddle up, let’s plan something really strong so when we’re done, Adam, the players (NBPA executive director) Michele Roberts, everybody can stand there and say, ‘Hey, this is what we decided to do and it’s going to bring real change in the inner cities, in urban America where we live, where we play. This is going to bring some real change.’ That’s what I would love to see happen.”

Lakers guard Avery Bradley and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving have been at the forefront of a group of players that expressed concern about the NBA resuming play in July and how that could take away from the movement regarding the social injustice facing Black Americans.

Silver said, “I respect their point of view,” and that “returning to play requires enormous sacrifice on a part of virtually everyone in the NBA community.”

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He said the NBA has global social media platform that reaches 1.8 billion people around the world to help the players get their messages across to the masses if they decide to play.

“As I said, there’re a lot of issues to work through, but my sense is there will be enormous focus on the league and the players down in Orlando, and media will be included and they will have that platform,” Silver said. “I certainly don’t want to take the other side of the issue to suggest to some young men that if they choose to make a choice not to play in the NBA and think that they can do more dealing directly with social issues, I respect that.”

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Johnson said he was overjoyed to see how NBA players reacted and began demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other Black people who have died at the hands of police.

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“It’s a call to action of everybody and it’s great to see Adam and his leadership of the NBA,” Johnson said. “I was so happy to see all the players -- and they are still involved as we speak today – to see them on the frontline protesting, using their power, using their platform, using their voice, using social media to say, ‘This has to stop.’ And they are willing to do whatever for change, because this is what this is all about, is we have to bring about change.”


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