Sacramento Kings co-owner Chris Kelly told CNBC on Thursday that team owners support NBA players’ protests against racial injustice and their calls for action.
“When we agreed to open up again in Orlando, having a social justice platform was a significant part of that,” Kelly said on “Squawk Alley.” “And we just want to continue that work, and we think that we’ll be able to do that in partnership with the players.”
Kelly’s comments come as NBA players and the league’s board of governors held separate meetings Thursday over how to proceed with the postseason competition in Florida after Wednesday’s playoff games were postponed. According to The Associated Press, the players have decided they want to continue the season.
On Wednesday, in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic protested their first-round game that had been scheduled for 4 p.m. The NBA and the player’s association then announced the postponement of the rest of the night’s games.
The work stoppage soon extended to other sports leagues, such as the WNBA and MLB, with players also protesting their scheduled games and leading to the postponements.
The police shooting of Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday has triggered demonstrations in the city this week — the latest in a string of widespread racial justice protests across the U.S. this summer following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Blake, who was shot multiple times from behind, was hospitalized and is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down.
“When there is a new name added to these lists, it needs to stop,” Kelly said, alluding to Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police earlier this year in Louisville, Kentucky. “And the frustration that the players feel is something that’s felt broadly among the ownership group, too. We want to see change.”
Kelly, former chief privacy officer at Facebook, said that he is a “deep believer in police and the work that they do,” noting that he unsuccessfully ran for attorney general of California in the 2010 election
But, he stressed, “it’s time for a radical change when you have unarmed, Black motorists often being killed by police. That’s just not acceptable in America, and we have to fix that.”
He said the Kings launched efforts to address racial injustice after the death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old Black man killed by Sacramento, California, police in 2018. However, “we’re ready to do more, and we’re ready to do more in partnership with the players,” he said.
Kelly referenced the efforts by professional sports teams to turn their venues into voting sites for the November election and also complimented the efforts of LeBron James’ group, More Than a Vote, to combat voter suppression and hire poll workers.
“There’s always more to be done, and we’re looking to do more,” Kelly added.