The NBA has been an outspoken advocate of many social issues, including policy brutality, gender/marriage equality, cultural inclusion and societal change. From the commissioner, Adam Silver, on down to players like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul, the league is filled with people looking to promote positivity, inclusiveness, and hope.
Teams across the league have different Heritage Nights to honor different cultures. For example, the Philadelphia Sixers have Indian Heritage Night, Jewish Heritage Night, Hispanic Heritage Night, Greek Heritage Night. Other teams like Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat also have a Filipino Heritage Night.
Black History Month is something that the league as well as the players themselves make a point to celebrate and honor. The NBA even has an entire series dedicated to Black History Month where current players and coaches talk about Black pioneers in the game of basketball. You can check out Clipper’s Doc River talk about Bill Russell below.
Not to mention Noches énebéa or Latin nights, a program the league started they celebrate over nine games NBA fans and players across Latin American and U.S. Hispanic communities. They’ve been doing the Latin Nights program since the 2006-07 season, so they’re 10 years strong this year! Check out the promo video the NBA made for it below.
NBA Cares, the league’s global social responsibility program, was started back in 2005 with the hope that it would expand the NBA’s focus on addressing important social issues around the world. Players and coaches go out into the communities and work on different service projects.
Individual teams also have their own community engagement programs such as reading and fitness programs, eco friendly service projects, and hometown hero welcomes/in game experiences.
Like the NFL and MLB, the NBA has made it a point to schedule games overseas. Since 1990, they’ve been holding regular-season games outside of the United States and Canada; now the NBA is holding games in countries like China, the U.K., Mexico, and (the continent of) Australia. Additionally, the Basketball Without Borders program is a joint effort with FIBA to develop young talent across the world and to give them opportunities they otherwise may not have had access to. They empower participants to promote positive social change in their communities as well as give them info on education and health.
To this point, the NBA and FIBA have put together 39 camps in 24 different cities across 20 countries, including participants from 5 different continents; that’s huge! Showing how global minded they are, and rightfully so. Their development of global talent may not get everyone in the league but it certainly has an immense positive impact on the lives of the youth they reach.