Adam Silver addresses racial inequality, protests: 'Wakeup call for the country'

Sporting News

The NBA may be resuming play soon, but there are other issues on commissioner Adam Silver's mind.

Silver appeared on TNT's special episode of "Inside the NBA" ("It's Time for a Conversation") on Thursday and discussed the ongoing protests across the country against police brutality and racial inequality. He also spoke about the NBA's plans for a late July return, which were approved by the Board of Governors.

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Silver said the most important thing he has learned during this time is to listen to testimonials from the black community and address their concerns appropriately.

"You can't walk in another man's shoes," Silver said. "(TNT hosts Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson) have all made the point about listening, and I think this is a wakeup call for the country."

Silver said the NBA held a community conversation Wednesday with almost a thousand people taking part. He said black colleagues shared their personal experience with racial injustice.

"People I work with every day," Silver said. "People I thought I knew what was going on in their lives, and people telling stories about having guns pulled on them when they were innocently going about doing their business or the way they feel they were discriminated against in a certain situation."

Silver said he thinks the NBA could have a bigger impact on these issues "than almost any other organization in the world."

"When you think about players, coaches, former players like (O'Neal, Barkley and Smith), including our ownership now, within that group you have some of the most well-known people of color in the entire world. And I've had this conversation with Michele Roberts today, who of course runs our players association, who is also African American, saying let's collectively put our heads together. Michelle was the first to say, 'Yeah, but this just can't be more of the same. This isn't about another joint statement from the league and its players."

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After that, the conversation shifted to the NBA's move to resume play.

"Let me begin by saying it seems somewhat small to be talking about a return to playing basketball in the context of what you guys are talking about," Silver said. "We've been talking since shortly after we shut down the season, and of course we've always been looking for whether or not there is an appropriate and safe way in which we can resume basketball knowing that we're going to be living with this (coronavirus) for awhile."

The NBA plans to play without fans at a single site: Disney's Wide World of Sports complex outside Orlando, Fla. The 16 teams that would have qualified for the playoffs had the league jumped straight to postseason play, along with six bubble teams, will comprise a 22-team pool to finish out the regular season beginning July 31. Teams will play eight regular-season games, followed possible play-in series for the No. 8 seeds and then a 16-team postseason.

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