NBA referees march in support of players who refused to play in protest of shootings

A sign at the arena where the Rockets and Thunder decided not to play Game 5 of their playoff series on Wednesday.
(Kim Klement / Associated Press)

At about 9 a.m. Thursday morning the NBA’s referees gathered at a pool at the Casitas of the Coronado Springs Resort, their home for the past two months, to march in a show of support for NBA players who decided not to participate in playoff games Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., as well as systematic racism.

“We’re here because we feel like we’re a representation of America, or what America could be,” said NBA official Marc Davis, who noted that the referees were mostly middle-aged people from different races and creeds. “This isn’t about right versus left. This is about right versus wrong. It’s everybody versus racism.”

Many wore black T-shirts issued by the National Basketball Referees Assn. that said “Everybody Vs. Racism” on the front.


The officials met Wednesday night to discuss how they could support players’ efforts. They arrived at the NBA’s campus a few days after teams did and have been sequestered in the bubble, which leads to chance encounters with the players and coaches they officiate.

“I think the younger generation inspires people,” official Zach Zarba said. “Especially some of the older guys who have been through a lot of disappointment.”

Whichever side of the political spectrum you’re on in the NBA protests, imagine what it would take for someone to possibly abandon a lifelong ambition to win a title.

Aug. 26, 2020

The group marched three times around the campus, a loop of about a mile and a half. At one point, a few Disney employees clapped as they passed.


Although some left the group after the first lap, many others joined the ranks, including team attendants, NBA employees and others living on the campus.