NBA Coaches Hope that Return to Play Gives the League a Platform for Change

Erik Spoelstra

The NBA is tentatively scheduled to tipoff on July 31, but coaches are well aware that social change is more important than a return to action on the court.

“I think everybody’s priority right now and hope is that we can all be part of the change that’s so necessary in our country. We’ll have a collective platform where everyone can collectively send a message condemning racism, racial injustice, calling for police accountability. There will be a platform, and I think we’re all thinking that way,” Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford said, via ESPN.

For most coaches in the NBA, the responsibility of leading young professionals through a period of social tumult is nothing new.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that the killing of George Floyd reminded him of the killing of Trayvon Martin back in 2012.

“If anything, many times before, so tragically, there would be a similar incident of social injustice like this, and then two weeks later people forget about it. This will be an opportunity for the entire association to land in one spot … to keep this conversation going and use our platform to make sure that this doesn’t go away,” Spoelstra said.

Earlier this week, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Jaylen Brown’s greatest impact will be as a leader, not a basketball player.

Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead a protest after Floyd’s killing.

The Celtic’s forward is just one of many NBA players who have spoken out and taken part in protests across the country this past week.

Though some players were vocal after Trayvon Martin’s killing, this is the first time this many players have collectively taken a leadership role in a social justice issue.

The challenge is great, but through active listening and collective effort, meaningful change is possible.