In an unprecedented meeting, a delegation of five NBA players and several officials from the National Basketball Association arrived in the Vatican Monday morning for a private meeting with Pope Francis to discuss their work on social justice issues.
A mediator for Pope Francis reached out to the Players’ Union last week stating that the Pope wanted to learn more about how players have recently drawn attention to pressing social justice issues and economic inequality – and what they have planned for the future, union officials told ESPN. The union agreed and quickly decided on a Sunday night flight for their private meeting with the Pope, which began at 11:45 am local time Monday morning at the Vatican. With the training camp opening on December 1, players and union officials had to press the flight now.
The meeting is expected to last for an hour in the Pontifical Library in the Apostolic Palace, after which the players and officials of the Union will tour in St. Peter’s Square.
The players and the union, in collaboration with the NBA office, took advantage of their stage at the start of the 2020 season at the NBA in Orlando to highlight police brutality, racial injustice and other issues. Most of the players chose various messages related to social justice – including “Say their names”, “equality” and “enough” – to place them above their numbers on the backs of their shirts. The union and the union agreed to draw “Black Lives Matter” on one side. Almost every player and coach kneeled while the pre-match national anthem was played.
Both Brown and Corver played at the time for the Milwaukee Bucks, who decided to sit down in the post-season match against the Orlando Magic in the wake of police shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Bucks’ impromptu strike inspired a flurry of these actions across a multitude of sports.
Brown, who agreed to a deal with the Houston Rockets over the weekend, and George HillNow a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, they were the first Bucks members to decide they wouldn’t play the game. Brown was the victim of a high-profile case of police brutality. In early 2018, eight Milwaukee police officers blockaded Brown outside Walgreens to investigate a possible parking infringement. Someone forced Brown to the ground. Use the last electric taser on it. Earlier this month, Brown settled a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department after the defendants agreed to pay $ 750,000.
Isaac, ordained minister, was one of the only players and coaches to stand on the national anthem during the NBA resumption in Orlando.
The meeting was quiet. The players plan to discuss it with the media afterwards. They will return to the United States on Tuesday morning.