The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have worked together over the past several days to create a plan for handling potential protests by players during the national anthem, sources told ESPN.com.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver and union executive director Michele Roberts on Wednesday sent a joint letter to all players. In the document, obtained by ESPN, the two sides pledged to work together to find a way to take “meaningful action” in NBA cities in the wake of the unrest in the country over police shootings and related incidents.
The sides are hoping to build on the series of town hall events and meetings with local police officials, such as one led by Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles in July, to continue building bonds of trust between law enforcement, players and communities.
Last season several players violated league uniform rules by wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in warm-ups after the police action-related death of Eric Garner in New York, but they were not fined.
Several WNBA players have kneeled during the anthem over the last several weeks and Wednesday the entire Indiana Fever team kneeled during the anthem before a playoff game. None of the WNBA players have been fined as the league is giving them space.
Silver and a group of owners who make up the labor relations committee have been regularly meeting with Roberts and her staff in recent months to work on a new collective bargaining agreement. Those talks have been productive, and there is optimism that the sides may be able to work out a new deal by December, sources said.