The National Basketball Association will remove its advocacy for the group Black Lives Matter and related causes when it resumes for a new season next year, league Commissioner Adam Silver said.
Silver made the declaration Tuesday on the ''NBA Countdown'' pregame show on ESPN before Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat after record low television ratings in the first three games.
''I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer,'' Silver said. ''My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.
''And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.'''
Silver’s remarks came after the first three games of the NBA Finals drew the lowest TV ratings in the history of the league for its championship series. Game 1 averaged a 4.1 rating and 7.41 million viewers; Game 2 drew 3.6 and 6.61 million viewers; while Game 3 came in with a 3.1 or 5.94 million viewers.
Before this season, the lowest recorded rating for an NBA Finals game was Game 2 of the 2003 championship series between the New Jersey Nets and San Antonio Spurs, a 5.2 with 8.06 million viewers.
The NBA endorsed Black Lives Matter and related causes earlier this year amid riots and protests that erupted following the death of a Black man in police custody on Memorial Day in Minneapolis. Although the league suspended play on March 11 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, it resumed on July 30.
The league convened the teams in an isolation ''bubble'' at Disney World near Orlando, Florida, painting the words ''Black Lives Matter'' on the courts of the various venues it used and allowing players to put political messages on their jerseys.
''We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality and that’s been the case going back decades,'' Silver said in the interview with ESPN. ''It’s part of the DNA of this league. How it gets manifested is something we’re going to have to sit down with the players and discuss for next season.''
While Game 5 of the NBA Finals is set for Friday with the Lakers leading three-games-to-one, Silver has said the new season isn’t likely to begin until 2021.
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