This is awesome to see, several NBA players met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to discuss their efforts to address social and economic injustice.
Several NBA players recently had a sit-down with Pope Francis to discuss social injustice issues.
On Monday, five athletes — Marco Belinelli of the San Antonio Spurs; Sterling Brown from the Milwaukee Bucks; Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic; the Bucks’ Kyle Korver; and Anthony Tolliver of the Memphis Grizzlies — met with the head of the Catholic Church at the papal library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
The basketball pros had a conversation about “their individual and collective efforts addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in their communities,” according to the National Basketball Players Association.
“We are extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis,” said Korver, 39, in a statement. “His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward.”
“Today’s meeting was an incredible experience,” added Tolliver, 35. “With the Pope’s support and blessing, we are excited to head into this next season reinvigorated to keep pushing for change and bringing our communities together.”
Michele Roberts, executive director of the NBPA, said the meeting “validates the power of our players’ voices.”
“That one of the most influential leaders in the world sought to have a conversation with them demonstrates the influence of their platforms. I remain inspired by our players’ continued commitment to serve and support our community,” added Roberts.
According to The New York Times, the 30-minute meeting was set up after the Vatican invited the NBPA about two weeks ago. “[The Pope] said sport is such an opportunity to unify, and he compared it to a team where you have a common goal and you’re working together but you all use your own personalities,” Korver told the outlet.
Back in August, Brown, 25, and Korver’s team, the Bucks, boycotted their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic in the wake of the shooting of Black Wisconsin man Jacob Blake. Athletes and teams from across several other sports, including the WNBA, MLB, MLS and tennis, quickly joined their boycott, which came during an NBA season that featured many demonstrations raising awareness for social justice.
Isaac, 23, is an ordained minister and did not kneel or wear a Black Lives Matter shirt during the national anthem at a July 31 game against the Bucks while his Magic teammates did. He explained his decision to reporters at the time, citing his religious beliefs and saying he didn’t think “putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives.”
“For me, Black lives are supported through the gospel,” he said at the time. “All lives are supported through the gospel. We all have things that we do wrong and sometimes it gets to a place that we’re pointing fingers at who’s wrong is worst. Or who’s wrong is seen, so I feel like the Bible tells us that we all fall short of God’s glory. That will help bring us closer together and get past skin color. And get past anything that’s on the surface and doesn’t really get into the hearts of men and women.”
Note: In accordance with Vatican protocols, players and NBPA staff members were required to undergo COVID-19 testing before meeting with Pope Francis at the papal library of the Apostolic Palace.
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) November 23, 2020
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