Former Jazz Players Hopeful On NBA Plan To Combat Racial Injustice

Jun 16, 2020, 2:55 PM | Updated: 3:15 pm
Richard Jefferson and Kyle Korver (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...
Richard Jefferson and Kyle Korver (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah Jazz players Richard Jefferson and Kyle Korver sat down to discuss how the NBA can make positive changes towards racial equality. In a video posted by ESPN, Jefferson asks Korver what current players what has been said during league conversations. Last Friday, some 80 NBA players, including Jazz players Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Ed Davis joined a conference call to discuss the NBA’s return.

“I think that everyone who’s engaging in this conversation right now — whatever stance you may have, wants one significant and real change to happen,” Korver said.

A percentage of NBA players, led by Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, fear that the NBA’s return will serve as a distraction from important conversations about race in the United States. On Monday, the Jazz’s Davis went on record arguing in favor of the league’s return.

Kover and Jefferson

Both Korver and Jefferson have been outspoken voices on public issues during their careers.

“I feel like there’s been a lot of criticism towards different groups of what’s right and what’s wrong,” Korver said. “And I think first we just acknowledge that we change needs to happen. And so whatever we choose to do, there needs to be a plan and we need to be unified, and we need to go for it.”

Korver had two stints with the Jazz. The guard first played in Utah between 2007 and 2010. In his final season, Korver set a league record for the best single-season three-point shooting percentage at .536. Korver rejoined the Jazz in 2018 and appeared in 54 games.

The NBA has yet to lay out a plan for what the league and the players would like to accomplish if the season resumes in Orlando. Jazz coach Quin Snyder joined a committee of select NBA coaches that help promote change on racial injustice.

The NBA Players Association has agreed to continue negotiations regarding the league’s 22-team plan to finish the season in Orlando. The target restart date for the season is July 30.

Jefferson spent one season with the Jazz in 2013. The forward played 17 seasons in the NBA, and won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.

Will the NBA Return?

The NBA’s return seemed like a forgone conclusion until Friday’s conference call. While a group of NBA superstars wants to return, not every player is on board.

“If my black teammates and friends and brothers feel like the best way to go about real change is to not play I stand with them,” Korver said.

However, the 17-year veteran understands his career is nearing an end. As a reserve guard from the NBA best Milwaukee Bucks, Korver recognizes this might be his last chance to win an NBA title.

“I care more about change happening than a championship, right?” Korver said. “On the other side, I am on a team that feels like we could win. And I have never won. I would like to win. So is there a way to do both? I think there’s a conversation there.”

NBA Plan to Combat Racial Injustice

The NFL has pledged $250 million over the next decade to fight systematic racism. Both Jefferson and Korver said they believed the NBA is the best professional sports league to handle these issues. How they want to see what the league can do to help.

“[NBA commissioner] Adam Silver is the best,” Korver said. “We also have the most diverse leadership group. So I think there’s more voices that will speak into this space than the other leagues.”

Despite the remaining unanswered questions, Korver is optimistic about the league’s future.

“I’m really curious to what the NBA does come out with,” Korver said. “I’m sure they’re going to the next few days about how can we take advantage of this time in Orlando, play good basketball, and be about change.”

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, several NBA players are awaiting the plans from the league office and team owners.

The Lakers guard believes the players’ message in Orlando could be amplified with the league owners’ help.

Bradely shared several ideas with ESPN’ according to Wojnarowski, “including improved hiring practices for black front office and head coaching candidates — making it so the league’s management ranks better reflect its composition of players, donations to organizations serving black communities, and partnerships with black-owned businesses and arena vendors.”


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