The social-justice messaging that has been displayed on the backs of players’ jerseys and splashed all over NBA courts this season will be “largely left off the floor” next season, according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silver sat down with Rachel Nichols on NBA Countdown earlier this week to discuss the NBA’s plans heading into next season.
Silver remained committed to the league’s stand with social justice, but he also said that messaging will most likely be left for off-the-court situations. “We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality, and that’s been the case going back decades. It’s part of the DNA of this league. How it gets manifested is something we’re gonna have to sit down with the players and discuss for next season. I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.’”
Ratings have been abysmal for the league throughout the out-of-season schedule caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the NBA Finals, featuring the league’s biggest star in LeBron James and one of its marquee franchises in the Los Angeles Lakers, has been the lowest-rated NBA Finals ever. Game 3 on Sunday averaged only 4.395 million viewers. To put that into perspective, metro Los Angeles has a population of around 12.5 million, so basically a third of Los Angeles was watching the game, while everyone else in the country was tuned into something else.