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Nets to make statement on social justice Friday ‘as a team,’ says Garrett Temple

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Dzanan Musa

The Nets players and coaches have been talking about a lot of things as they prepare for Friday’s (re-) opener vs. the Magic, including how they will give voice to their concerns about the state of social justice in America. Nothing is set yet, Garrett Temple told reporters on the team’s daily Zoom call, but whatever they choose to do, they will do it as a team, as a unit.

“Whatever we do, we’re going to do it as a team and make sure everybody is OK with what we do,” Temple said. “We will do something, and you all will see it when it happens.”

Whether that’s kneeling during the national anthem or something else, it will be result of long discussions, Temple and Jacque Vaughn noted.

“We haven’t talked about COVID much at all,” Temple said. “We’ve talked about Breonna Taylor, Black Lives Matter, things that we see as things that need to be changed. Bringing Breonna Taylor’s killers to justice, things of that nature.”

“It’s an ongoing discussion that continues to be at the forefront of how we live in today’s world,” Vaughn added. “It’s my responsibility to continue to have it as an active conversation, whether it is a one-on-one conversation with the individual or presenting something to the group.”

Beyond discussions, Vaughn has recommended everything from books to podcasts to his players, hoping they will further illuminate what’s happening in the country. He said that he’s planning to read a book called “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds.

Joe Harris said that during discussions, the Nets have “collectively gone over all that that needs to change, socially, and we’ve been fortunate to be in a position where we have a lot of opportunities and resources available to us.”

In recent days, the Nets were part of a conference call between NBA and WNBA players and former First Lady Michelle Obama, on the importance of voting.

“There were 100-plus people on that call, both NBA and WNBA players,” said Harris. Things of that nature really are spearheading what I think is going to enact real change. I think collectively we’re able to do more together for sure being down here.”

Harris had strong words in support of Vaughn’s role with the team in Orlando.

“JV’s been phenomenal,” said the Nets longest serving veteran. “I thought he was great even before all this but through all this, he’s been the perfect leader for us, setting the example in a number of different ways both on and off the court.”

Harris added that the Nets have been “very lucky” to have Vaughn as their coach.

One thing that the Nets haven’t had to worry about during their preparation for the league re-start and their off-court discussions is health. On Wednesday for the second week in a row, the NBA and NBPA announced there have been no new positive tests for coronavirus, a very different situation from Major League Baseball where 16 players on the Miami Marlins traveling party have tested positive.

“The NBA has done a great job of keeping us safe in the bubble. Guys are following protocols, so, we’re fine,” said Temple who like Kyrie Irving is a member of the union’s executive committee.

“I think it’s a clear warning of staying vigilant and practicing all the protocols,” Vaughn said of the contrast between the NBA and MLB. “I think the NBA has done an unbelievable job of setting the format and the guidelines, and it’s up to the individuals to respond to those guidelines in a respectful and mature way.”

Meanwhile, the NBA announced an expansion of its community testing program, noting that it is working on creating no-cost testing programs in Orlando and various team markets around the country to offer testing at no-cost to residents, particularly in areas where testing is scarce currently.

The league had begun to get criticism for its testing regimen with its quick turnaround in light of growing issues with testing around the country.

And back in Brooklyn, the team and Barclays Center will once again host a mobile food pantry at the arena to help feed Brooklyn families. The pantry, which will be open from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m, will be run by New York Food Bank with partners like Key Food, Snipes and Tyson Foods. It’s the second time the arena has hosted a mobile pantry.