NBA announces plan to convert arenas into polling places as part of agreement to resume play
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced a plan Friday to return to the league’s playoffs, as well as a commitment to convert some arena facilities into in-person voting locations during the 2020 general election.
NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in joint statement that the league will return to playoff games on Saturday “with the understanding that” players and the league will focus on a slate of civil and voting rights programs.
The leaders said that in every city where the league’s franchise controls arena property “team governors will continue to work with local elections officials to convert the facility into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID.”
“If a deadline has passed, team governors will work with local elections officials to find another election-related use for the facility, including but not limited to voter registration and ballot receiving boards,” the statement continued.
The NBA and players also agreed to establish a “social justice coalition” that is set to include players, coaches and governors focused on issues like “increasing access to voting, promoting civic engagement, and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.”
The league also vowed to create advertising spots in NBA playoff games “dedicated to promoting greater civic engagement in national and local elections and raising awareness around voter access and opportunity.”
Some NBA teams, including the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and others have already announced that their arenas will be available as polling locations in November.
The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to refuse to play in their playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday in a demonstration over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. The games that were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday will be rescheduled, according to ESPN.
Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha police officer Sunday. His family has said that he is at least temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.