NBA 2020-21: Pope Francis blesses Atlanta Hawks’ Martin Luther King jersey

NBA 2020-21: The Hawks just got blessed. Well, their jersey at least. Pope Francis received a package from Atlanta that consisted of the Hawks’ 20-21 MLK Nike City Edition jersey, which he gave his blessing and signed.

The NBPA said the players spoke about their “individual and collective efforts addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in their communities.

Atlanta unveiled the jersey last fall, which will honor civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and mark the first time the initials of an individual will be featured prominently on the chest of an official NBA game uniform.

Profits from the jersey sales will go directly towards the Atlanta community.

The Hawks will debut the threads on MLK Day against the Timberwolves on NBA TV at 2:30 ET, along with a revamped court emblazoned with MLK on the sidelines.

NBA and NBPA met Pope Francis to talk about Social Justice issues earlier

In an unusual meeting, a delegation of five NBA players and several officials from the National Basketball Players Association went to the Vatican for a private audience with Pope Francis to discuss their work on social justice issues.

A delegate for Pope Francis was in talks with the players association last week. The Pope wanted to learn more about how players had recently gathered attention to driving social justice issues and economic inequality.

The players and the union, in cooperation with the NBA league office, used their stage at the NBA’s 2020 season restart in Orlando to place a spotlight on police brutality, racial injustice, and other issues.

Also Read: NBA and NBPA forms a National Basketball Social Justice Coalition to promote equality and social justice

 NBA players delegation:

The delegation includes Kyle Korver and Sterling Brown; Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic; Anthony Tolliver, the union’s secretary-treasurer; Marco Belinelli; and Michele Roberts, executive director of the players union.

Most players chose different messages linked to social justice. These included “Say Their Names,” “Equality” and “Enough,” and many more to place above their numbers on the backs of their jerseys.

The league and union agreed to paint “Black Lives Matter” along one sideline. Almost every player and coach took a knee when the national anthem was played before games.

Sterling Brown, who accepted to terms with the Houston Rockets over the weekend, and George Hill, now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, were the first members of the Bucks to decide they would not play the game.

Also Read: How Golden State Warriors will receive $9.3M from NBA due to Klay Thompson’s injury?

Police brutality case against Sterling Brown:

Brown was the victim of a high-profile case of police brutality. In early 2018, eight Milwaukee police officers circled Brown outside a Walgreens to investigate a possible parking violation.

One forced Brown to the ground. Another used a Taser on him. Earlier this month, Brown settled a civil rights lawsuit he filed against the city of Milwaukee and its police department after the defendants agreed to a $750,000 payment.

Isaac, an ordained minister, was one of the only players and coaches to stand for the national anthem during the NBA’s restart in Orlando.

The meeting was kept very quiet. Players are planning to discuss it with the media afterward. They will return to the U.S. Tuesday morning.

The tentative schedule calendar for the 2020-21 season:

 • Dec. 11-19, 2020: Preseason games

 • Dec. 22, 2020 – March 4, 2021: First Half of regular season

 • March 5-10, 2021: All-Star break

 • March 11 – May 16, 2021: Second Half of regular season

 • May 18-21, 2021: Play-In Tournament

 • May 22 – July 22, 2021: 2021 NBA Playoffs

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