Pope Francis Meets NBA Players to Discuss Social Justice

Author: Mansi


In an interesting move, Pope Francis Meets NBA Players to Discuss Social Justice. Along with several officials from the National Basketball Players’ Association, five NBA players met Pope Francis to discuss social justice and their work on the same. The meeting took place at the Vatican on November 23, Monday.

Private Meeting Organized with the Pope.

The previous week, one of the assistants of Pope Francis had met players in connection with the same. That was when players were informed that the Pope had shown interest in meeting players and discussing social justice, steps they have taken in the last years to fight the pressing cause, and players are planning to do in the upcoming years for the cause. 

The Players association immediately after receiving the message agreed to meet Pope and scheduled an overnight flight. A private meeting with the pope was organized which was attended by several officials of the National Basketball Players’ Association & a delegation of five players. With the training camps starting on December 1, the trip had to be cut short. 

The Delegation and the Meeting.

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

The meeting took place at the papal library of the Apostolic Palace, which lasted for about an hour. After meeting with the pope, the players along with the officials visited St. Peter's Square. 

During the meeting, the union association said, "We're here because, frankly, we're inspired by the work that you do globally.” The players talked about their collective as well as individual efforts they are making in addressing inequality & social injustice. They presented the pope with a commemorative basketball, an Orlando Magic jersey, and a book talking about the efforts players have made to fight the menace of social injustice.

What did the Pope say during the meeting?

Talking to the union & the players, Pope Francis said, "You're champions. But also giving the example of teamwork, you've become a model, giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble ... and preserving your own humanity."

Pope praised the efforts that the union & the players association in cooperation with the NBA made to showcase their solidarity against social injustice & racism. The union & the players, during the NBA's 2020 season went on to throw the spotlight on various social issues, in their own way. 

A number of players placed different messages (that talked about social injustice, racism, police brutality & other issues) on the back of their jersey including -- "Enough", "Equality" & "Say Their Names". In addition to that, along with almost all the coach & players kneeled down at the time when the National Anthem was played before the game began.

Brown and Korver Step against the Police Brutality.

Brown and Korver (who played for the Milwaukee Bucks at that time) sat out a postseason game that was played against the Orlando Magic at the time when the 29-year-old man, Jacob Blake was brutally shot by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This ran a wave of inspiration among other players & teams. Brown was the first from Bucks to have decided not to play and show their agitation against police brutality. 

Brown has also faced police brutality during 2018. It was when Brown got surrounded by eight Milwaukee police officers outside a Walgreens. This was in relation to an investigation about a potential parking infraction. He was mistreated by the police -- when one of them forced home on the ground and the other used a taser on him. 

Brown discussed what he & the Bucks went through during the NBA's restart bubble -- with the Pope. It is what led him to the decision of not taking the court against Orlando. Brown said, "It was raw and emotional for our team.”

Talking about this meeting, Kyle Korver said, "We are extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis. His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward."

The meeting took place very quietly and everything about the influence of the platform was discussed. 


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