Are NBA owners really committed to social justice?

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Throughout the entire period of NBA seeding games that also included a play-in matchup, there were a total of 89 contests played in a little over two weeks.

Over the course of that juncture, every ball boy and ball girl wore black “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts. They are visible contributors on the court,  assisting players in shagging rebounds and passing to them during their pregame workouts, and wiping up wet spots on the court in games, among other duties.

But a few players began noticing that when the playoffs started, those ball boys and ball girls suddenly began wearing blue NBA logo T-shirts. Those shirts were even worn Wednesday, when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court against the Orlando Magic for Game 5 of their first-round series to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police.

A three-day pause ensued. After players deliberated on the pros and cons of resuming play, followed by a meeting with owners to demand that social initiatives be met and the owners agreeing to those terms, the postseason was back Saturday.

And guess what else was back? Those “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts.

Some owners never wanted “Black Lives Matter” painted on the court or on T-shirts worn by league employees in arenas, sources said. Transitioning to the NBA shirts was described by one young player as trying to “lull you to sleep and pulling the rug from under you without you waking up.”

It’s one small example of why some players are dubious about team owners keeping their word regarding the agreed-upon social-justice initiatives. 

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