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Garrett Temple: NBA return-to-play is ‘amazing opportunity’ to ‘push narrative’

Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Like Kyrie Irving, Garrett Temple is a union vice-president, but he’s been on the other side in the debate over the NBA’s plan to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando. While Irving has reportedly been lobbying for a players’ boycott, Temple has said he’s been lobbying players to travel to Orlando next month.

Temple said on Friday that he sees the value in sitting out and shining a light on the need for social justice, but believes that playing in Orlando is “an amazing opportunity,” reports Cassandra Negley of Yahoo! Sports who watched a virtual discussion of the topic at a celebration of Juneteenth by the New York Liberty. The Nets and Liberty are both owned by Joe and Clara Wu Tsai.

“Just to make sure that narrative continues to get pushed but also to do our jobs playing as black men,” said Temple. “We have an obligation to be the voice for the voiceless.”

It’s not as if he’s unfamiliar with the issues, he told the forum.

Temple said his own brother has been pulled over and hand-cuffed.

“Seeing it so many times, seeing friends go through it, it makes you feel as if you’ve been through it yourself,” Temple said. “But it still breaks my heart. You can see so many things happen. And the question is, ‘why now?’”

So he thinks the “bubble” will present players —and the league as a whole— that opportunity to discuss issues as well as more traditional means of protest. Players are asking what can be done at the Disney World site, ranging from putting Black Lives Matter on the courts to reading PSAs on the broadcast during timeouts, Yahoo! reported.

For example, Temple noted that he supports defunding the police,

The Nets veteran was on the forum stage with another activist from the Liberty, Layshia Clarendon, acquired during the off-season as the back-up and mentor to the Libs overall No. 1 pick, Sabrina Ionescu.

“Kyrie [Irving] could play or not and people are going to listen to what he says,” Clarendon said.

It may have been forgotten that Liberty players were among the only pro basketball players to be fined for wearing Black Lives Matter warm-up gear. Back in 2016, the WNBA fined the Liberty, Lynx and Mercury as well as their players for violating “uniform policies” by donning the gear.

The fines were later rescinded but since then, the Liberty have run an annual Comm-UNITY Day game in July or August centered on the players’ activism passions, as Yahoo! Sports reports Saturday. Since the WNBA will be playing this season in a Bradenton, Florida, bubble, the team chose Juneteenth. The team put the forum on its YouTube feed

Clarendon spoke as well about the underlying issues in this month’s protests, suggesting that the police need both better education and training. The U.S. requires less training than virtually every other western democracy. She put it in basketball terms.

“They can’t dribble and we’re asking them to be the point guard,” she said, noting that many police aren’t trained in handling such issues as mental health, substance abuse and conflict de-escalation.

Also on hand was Keia Clarke, the chief operating officer of the Liberty, the team’s highest ranking executive. She’s been with the team for a decade. This is her third year as COO. She talked about the role “your favorite team” can have in educating everyone on the issue.

“What you learn from your favorite team could provoke a young person or even an adult to lean into it,” she said. “I’ll even venture to say, initiatives like this are meant to be celebratory to a certain extent because we’re sports and entertainment. These things should be fun and they should be light, but our audience is diverse so it’s also an educational point.

“It’s a teachable moment even for the non-black fans who now have an opportunity to learn about something they may not know a whole lot about just for understanding sake and for us to get along better.”

The forum was the second time in the past few days where Temple has participated in a virtual forum on issues surrounding the recent protests —- and the larger issues. He and Joe Harris spoke about the value of “white allyship.”

Harris spoke about how while at UVA, he was the only white guy in the car when police pulled the car over and the police asked him “are you okay?”

“If black people could do it by themselves, it would have been done by now,” Temple noted. “We need allies.”

Then on Saturday, Temple went on CNN to discuss the same issue...