Re-opening in solidarity: NBA’s restart opening night sheds light on social justice

NBA’s re-opening night sheds light on social justice

Arms interlocked standing shoulder to shoulder in solidarity. No one saw this coming. Unity on the hardwood and black t-shirts etched with a message for social justice, “Black Lives Matter.” If solidarity and sports became friends, they became the bestest friends Thursday night.

After a four-month hiatus, the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers gave fans a treat they’ve waited for since March when the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended due to the global pandemic.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex wasn’t the normalized game atmosphere most people wanted, but it was sufficient enough in a nail-biting 103-101 victory by the Lakers in what was the second game of a restart opening doubleheader.

The new NBA

It was tough. No yelling and screaming from the crowd. Absolutely nothing. It wasn’t the usual atmosphere at the Staples Center, but it didn’t shake Anthony Davis. He picked up the slack with LeBron James struggling most of the night racking up a game-high 34 points in his first game back since the hiatus.

LeBron did his damage per usual with a ferocious drive through the lane for a one-handed dunk. The King also had a nice dish to JaVale McGee for a two-handed slam down the stretch. Obviously, it would’ve been more exhilaration if an actual crowd were present.

For the Clippers, Paul George looked his best, in addition to Kawhi Leonard. Both guys are in top conditioning shape. Another player showing flashes of contribution is Reggie Jackson. All in all, the Clippers have an efficient roster, but will it be strong enough in the Western Conference? Since the beginning of the season, it’s been the fight for the West. The fight for the top spot. And, the Lakers, who seem to have that spot sewn and stitched, aren’t fearing the possibility of dropping in the rankings.

That fear will only come to fruition if the Lakers’ get in their own heads. But the biggest victory for both teams was the opportunity to have a voice. Social justice differentiates from sports, but it’s become a vital topic of debate. NBA executives, for the first time in the league’s history, allowed players to express that topic in various forms. It was a feeling of tranquility. Deeper than basketball, of course.

Thursday night’s restart opener was a perfect example of solidarity. In the end, it’s about unification and integrity. Those principles embody truth. That truth sheds light on what’s next to come. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, along with his constituents, worked tireless hours constructing a blueprint for resumption. He wasn’t alone. LeBron James and other NBA players advocated for the season’s return. The wish came true. But will change?

With the season officially resuming, players are still practicing social distancing and other implemented measures assuring safety in the bubble. This ensures the safety and protection of players, coaches, and other team personnel. Overall, the goal is to be safe.

The hiatus taught everyone a lesson. A lesson about change. But that change can’t grow if the seed isn’t planted. As a nation, we’ve planted that seed. The only hope now, is that it grows to execution.

Next: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz: 3 takeaways from the restart opener

That execution started last night, and hopefully, the solidarity will last for years to come.