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For Brooklyn Nets, Black Lives Matter

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The Nets are at one end of the NBA’s spectrum of commitment to social justice, with everyone from ownership to players offering up endorsements of the ideals in general and Black Lives Matter specifically.

And they continued that on Wednesday with Sean Marks expressing their own and the organization’s commitment.

“I don’t think there’s words that can explain how important this is, so I would be doing it a complete injustice,” Marks told more the 20 media representatives. “To be quite frank, it’s about time that society in general stands up, and the Brooklyn Nets without a doubt will be supporting the Black Lives Matter movement not only now — it’s not a fleeting moment; this is something that’s here to stay, and I look forward to seeing change.”

The Nets were among the first NBA teams to denounce the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in a statement signed by Joe and Clara Wu Tsai and co-signed by executives from the Brooklyn and Long Island Nets, the New York Liberty and Barclays Center. The organization has pledged to aid in community efforts, although no details have emerged about their plan.

Tsai has also endorsed the use of the arena entrance plaza for peaceful demonstrations and encouraged players to speak their minds. Marks noted that the team has had Van Jones, the CNN commentator and president of the Reform Alliance, speak with the players and in one case with players and executives. (Similarly, the Liberty have had Jemele Hill, formerly of ESPN and now with The Atlantic, speak to their players.)

Jacque Vaughn who lived through the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, said what is happening now should resonate widely, starting within the Nets organization.

“A big part of it is me as an African-American man, a male raising two African-American teenagers, so it starts in my home and my conversations,” Vaughn said in the Zoom call.

“The challenge I have for this organization is the conversations that we’re having aren’t one-off, and it’s great that this is a continuing conversation. That’s where the change and the elevation will happen overall.”

And despite his interim tag, Vaughn said he expects to lead the group.

“It’s my duty to continue this conversation in our locker room,” he told the media.

“I think our group is open to conversation and the challenge of growing, and it fits into our whole concept of, we really do care about you not only on the floor. This is an opportunity where I do it in my home with my two boys, I’m proud of that. It’s a heck of a challenge. And then I’ve got other guys I’ve got to do it with in the locker room.”

With two vocal players on the NBPA executive committee, the team group chats have been a sounding board for many of the discussions that have taken place on a broader scale around the league and across the nation. Kyrie Irving in particular was at the center of discussions about whether players should boycott the “Bubble.”

Marks said that he has indeed spoken with Irving —as well as Kevin Durant— about the issues at hand.

“He’s obviously aware of everything that’s going on, whether it’s the pandemic and some of the issues going on in society. We’ve had great conversations about all of that,” Marks said of KD.

Vaughn, while speaking about the family atmosphere inside the Nets training center and locker room, spoke as well of his own family, how they have been separated for two months because of the threat from COVID-19. He’s been in Brooklyn, his wife and children in Phoenix. The recent wave of protests has helped him discuss the issue with two constituencies.

“This is an opportunity where I do it in my home with my two boys, I’m proud of that. It’s a heck of a challenge. And then I’ve got other guys I’ve got to do it with in the locker room.”

Vaughn said as well that he expects the social justice movement and the conversations will continue. The conversation “isn’t a one off,” he said. In fact, he cited the old Hebrew saying Tikkun olam, or “repair the world.”

He added that beyond what individual teams will do in Orlando, the league’s coaches will also organize events.

“The Coaches Association will be doing different things throughout the course of the time in Orlando whether it is unison with some of the things we say together, presentation of thoughts and quotes from each team,” Vaughn said