In a recent interview with The Root, ESPN analyst Jay Williams noted that while increased awareness around social justice issues is important, he’s far more concerned with the NBA’s interest in that subsequent action.
“If my family was safe and I have the biggest platform in the world to delineate my message on a day-to-day basis, considering everything we have right now, I utilize that platform,” he said. “I just don’t utilize the platform, I also utilize my connectivity with owners, with other high-level business people or people of influence to raise funds to create lobbyists to help us change the legislation. And I use my platform to tell people legislation I want to change.”
While not quite a legislative measure, ESPN reports that the NBA will be pooling a combined $300 million from every NBA owner and pour those funds into empowering the Black community over the next decade, via the newly launched NBA Foundation.
“We are dedicated to using the collective resources of the 30 teams, the players and the league to drive meaningful economic opportunities for Black Americans,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We believe that through focused programs in our team markets and nationally, together with clear and specific performance measures, we can advance our shared goals of creating substantial economic mobility within the Black community.”
As for the NBA Foundation, it’s a partnership between the NBA’s board of governors and the National Basketball Players Association whose main goal is to “help Black men and women with obtaining jobs, securing employment following school and with career advancement.” Additionally, it will support organizations throughout the country with “skills training, mentorship, coaching and pipeline development” in NBA cities, as well as developing programming and funding to combat the rampant racial inequality that permeates our society.
“Given the resources and incredible platform of the NBA, we have the power to ideate, implement and support substantive policies that reflect the core principles of equality and justice we embrace,” said Michelle Roberts, the NBPA executive director. “This Foundation will provide a framework for us to stay committed and accountable to these principles.”
Admittedly, this all sounds a bit nebulous. But considering the NBA Foundation is still in its infancy, my hope is that it will serve as a catalyst for significant progress within our communities.
Good shit, NBA.