The Denver Nuggets opened their Sunday practice session by discussing the life and legacy of Rep. John Lewis, and later coach Michael Malone began his session with reporters talking about social justice issues.
Prior to departing for the NBA’s restart in Florida, Malone was adamant that he and the Nuggets would not allow basketball to distract from their focus, passion and fight for the Black Lives Matter movement. And so far, the Nuggets have often used their media sessions to keep the conversation on social justice, police brutality and racism since the NBA resumed the season in Orlando.
“I think we have all bought in,” Malone said of the team continuing to focus and push social justice in their platforms from the NBA campus. “… As I’ve said many times, I do not want to be sitting on the sideline during this movement. I want to help. I want to educate myself, help our players educate themselves so we can approach it the best way possible.
“To make sure it is not just about, ‘Hey, our pick-and-roll defense, our offensive execution,'” Malone later added. “That is important as we get closer to playing games. But I know we are dedicated as an organization to make sure we are doing as much as we can to continue to keep that conversation and that light where it needs to be.”
Malone also revealed Sunday that the Nuggets will be filming public service announcements in conjunction with “I am a voter,” a campaign to promote wider voting participation.
Last week, forward Jerami Grant used his entire video interview session with reporters to talk about Breonna Taylor’s death and police brutality. Forward Will Barton talked at length during his interview session about why he would rather continue educating youth in the community about social justice than wear a message on the back of his jersey.
“Always keep the focus on the many that lost their lives to police brutality or racism,” Barton said on Friday when asked what the media’s role is in NBA players trying to effect social justice change. “Let’s keep talking about it. At the end of the day, none of these platforms are going to be enough; if we think just us going out there and putting names on the back of our jerseys and still talking about it in the media is going to fix anything, we’re fooling ourselves.”
Prior to practice on Sunday, Malone sent his players and coaches a link to the “John Lewis: Good Trouble” documentary and had assistant coach John Beckett talk to the team about what Lewis meant to him as an African-American growing up in Atlanta.
“[Lewis] was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge down in Selma trying to fight for the rights to vote and to fight against voter suppression, which is still going on today, which is kind of sad that 40, 50, 60 years later, we are still having the same conversations,” Malone said.
The Nuggets coach also used the start of his session with reporters on Sunday to praise some Colorado musicians for boycotting Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in Greenwood Village, Colorado, for the city’s decision to pass a resolution that protects police officers from personal financial liability under the new Colorado police reform law.
“How much respect, appreciation I have for what Nathaniel Rateliff is doing back in Colorado. Nathaniel Rateliff, who has become a friend, [and] another Denver-based band ‘The Lumineers,’ they have decided to boycott Fiddler’s Green in Greenwood Village in response to Greenwood Village and their decision to defend police officers that are sued under the new Senate Bill 217,” Malone said. “So the fact that we have some of the best musicians in the world, located in Denver, taking that stance to boycott Fiddler’s Green in Greenwood Village and support the Black Lives Matter movement I think is outstanding.”
Malone says the Nuggets will continue to find ways to be active and make their voices heard for change while in Orlando.
“To me, I think it is an easy balance,” Malone said. “Yes, we are basketball players and coaches, but let’s make sure we are doing almost our civic responsibility to do what we need to do down there to keep the conversation ongoing.”