NBA commissioner supports players wearing 'Enough' shirts, speaking out
© Getty Images

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he supports basketball players using their status to speak out against gun violence, saying NBA athletes are not "just ballplayers, they're citizens."

Silver’s comments came from the stands at a game after players on several teams wore t-shirts reading “Enough” and listing the names of victims in last week’s Thousand Oaks, Calif., shooting.


"As I've always said, our players aren't just ballplayers, they're citizens," Silver said to ESPN on Sunday. "They have strong feelings about what's happening in society and they react to them.” 

“I think this was something that was a groundswell within the league,” Silver added talking about the T-shirts. “It came from the players and it spread by word of mouth from one team to another ... I support our players' desire to speak out on issues that are important to them and important to society."

Silver has regularly expressed support for athletes leading politically active lifestyles. 

"I encourage all of you not to stick to sports," Silver said at an awards dinner in May. "Do not stick to sports. Embrace it, celebrate it, and let's use it to build bridges and bring people together."

A dozen people were killed in the shooting late Wednesday night when a gunman opened fire in the Borderline Bar & Grill before taking his own life.

NBA players have been at the center of political protests in the past.

LeBron James started a movement across the league to wear a "hoodie" sweatshirt following the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 and former player Matt Barnes led a protest movement in March over a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man in Sacramento.

Athletes speaking out has taken center stage as President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE has continually lashed out at NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

At a rally in 2017, Trump said that NFL owners should fire players who participated in the protests and told spectators they should speak out and leave.