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Volume 20 No. 42
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The issue of unity: NBA


Following the Golden State Warriors’ White House snub and the wave of NFL player anthem protests, the NBA sent a memo to all teams outlining various community initiatives.

“Given the recent attention on the role of sports in society, we wanted to share the different ways in which teams and players are engaged in their communities,” read the memo sent by the league on Sept. 26 and obtained by SportsBusiness Journal.

The memo made no mention of any guidelines for teams to handle any possible player anthem protests for the preseason that began Saturday with the Warriors playing the Denver Nuggets. Instead it emphasized the league’s ongoing community programs such as teams holding a speaker series on topics on diversity and inclusion. It highlighted offering experts, including former Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, to a new program beginning next month that will see the U.S. Conference of Mayors host “community conversations” and other events with NBA teams to engage young people, law enforcement and local leaders.

The focus on community efforts also was part of the NBA’s playbook last season when the league and the players union announced plans to develop programs for teams to address various social issues. Now, the NBA is again taking a proactive stance.

“The league office is available to assist you in these efforts and is eager to hear your ideas. We will also continue to engage team Community Relations and Player Development staff by convening regular calls, sharing best practices and making the necessary resources available to support your programs,” the memo read.

The memo was sent four days after the league and Warriors responded to President Donald Trump’s Sept. 22 tweet that rescinded an invitation to the reigning NBA champions to visit the While House.

The Golden State Warriors drew the Twitter ire of President Donald Trump.

The Warriors had been discussing all summer how to handle a possible celebratory visit to the White House as per presidential tradition. A meeting to decide whether to take the trip to the Oval Office was set for Sept. 23 as the team prepared to open training camp. But when Trump rescinded the invitation after Warriors star Stephen Curry questioned the team going to the White House, the team never had to make a decision on a visit. Instead, it had to decide how to publicly respond to the snub.

The team met that Saturday morning for 20 minutes with owner Joe Lacob and discussed a public response.

Warriors executives worked with the league on a statement and it was shared with players during the meeting. The players had input and tweaks were made.

The statement highlighted the team’s disappointment and how the Warriors will use their trip to Washington, D.C., in February to play the Wizards to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion.”

The Warriors and other NBA teams then spent the past week planning to have discussions related to any possible anthem player protest as preseason games were to begin.

— John Lombardo