As the nation heads into Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the NBA has announced leaguewide efforts to honor the life and legacy of the late Civil Rights leader. Through the weekend, the league, teams, coaches, and current and former players will engage in a national dialogue on race and quality across NBA platforms.
On MLK Day the league will have a five-game slate of nationally televised games on TNT and NBA TV, beginning at Noon EST. During those games and throughout the weekend, teams will wear custom Nike MLK Day warm-up t-shirts designed in collaboration with the NBPA, MLK Foundation, and Martin Luther King III. The front of the t-shirt features words from MLK’s timeless “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, “NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE JUSTICE A REALITY FOR ALL,” while the back reads “HONOR KING” with the lettering adorned with Dr. King Jr.’s signature. Both messages are printed in a font derived from the carrying signs used in Dr. King Jr.’s memorial march on April 8, 1968.
Ahead of a weekend of action, the NBA will unveil the “We Must Learn” spot that encourages all to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life by continuing his legacy. Featuring soundbites of Dr. King and the instrumental of Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think,” the spot depicts still images and video from peaceful protests throughout the Civil Rights Movement infused with footage of NBA players, coaches, and leaders demonstrating in their communities in the wake of social injustice over the past year. In the spot, the words of Dr. King will be heard while imagery of people of all backgrounds will come together on the basketball court. The words highlighted are:
More than anything else, we’ve got to learn to love
Because we are all tied together
We must act now
We are in America and we got to learn how to live together
We ain’t going nowhere
We need to learn how to love
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The spot features members of the NBA family including Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, Dallas Mavericks’ Mark Cuban, and Luka Dončić, Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, New Orleans Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson, Sacramento Kings’ Vivek Ranadivé, San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, and Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal – will premiere on Wednesday, Jan. 13 during the Brooklyn Nets vs. New York Knicks game at 7:30 p.m. E.T. on ESPN and across NBA social and digital platforms.
On MLK Day, the NBA will host a virtual roundtable to discuss Dr. King’s vision for racial equality and the modern movement for social justice. NBA Champion and the league’s first Black General Manager Wayne Embry, National Civil Rights Museum President Terri Freeman and Founder of E Pluribus Unum and former Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu will join host Caron Butler, NBA Champion, Miami Heat assistant coach and Vera Institute of Justice board member, for a candid discussion on Dr. King’s life and vision for equality, as well as the impact of racism and inequity in America today.
The 40-minute discussion will stream live on the @NBA Twitter account on Monday, Jan. 18 at 11 a.m. ET.
You can see all of the MLK Day games below.
- Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks – 12:00 p.m. ET on NBA TV
- Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Atlanta Hawks – 2:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV
- Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies – 5:00 p.m. ET on TNT
- Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets – 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
- Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers – 10:00 p.m. ET on TNT