Dec 17, 2021 - Sports

NBA's efforts to turn a moment into a movement

Hand holding a "vote" sign into a basket.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Last year's racial reckoning was a moment. The NBA wants it to become a movement.

Driving the news: Steph Curry last week, on behalf of the NBA's Social Justice Coalition, urged fans to contact their senators about passing the Freedom to Vote Act.

Catch up quick: The coalition — established in November 2020 by the NBA and players union with the goal of turning protest into policy — comprises a 15-person board with representatives from the league, ownership, players and coaches.

  • Since then, it's lobbied for and endorsed four bills that fall under its three areas of focus: voting rights, police reform and criminal justice reform.
  • Those bills — the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, the Freedom to Vote Act and the EQUAL Act — have thus far failed to become law, but as the coalition's director James Cadogan tells Axios, that's only part of their mission.
"Our mission is to raise awareness, educate and take meaningful action. Supporting those bills is part of that meaningful action, but ... I think our superpower, if we have one, is bringing more eyeballs onto issues and more people into consistent participation."

The big picture: Last year's upheaval has already led to tangible change across the sports world, including racist mascots being ditched and millions of dollars being committed to aid diversity initiatives.

  • But the next, and perhaps most important step, is ensuring that momentum doesn't fade — a directive Cadogan feels the coalition is particularly well suited to achieve.
  • "That's the reason for institutionalizing this work," he said. "It's an established arm of the NBA community ... and this is how we want to make sure that it sustains and lasts beyond the moment."
Go deeper