More than 100 NBA employees walked out Friday in solidarity with NBA and WNBA players who are pushing for social justice, a league source told ESPN. The protest came two days after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the floor for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.
New York- and New Jersey-based NBA staff members across 10 league departments -- including basketball operations, cybersecurity, finance and marketing -- planned to spend the day calling state and local officials to "demand justice for Jacob Blake and for the police officers to be held accountable."
"We believe the NBA, its leadership, and the Board of Governors unequivocally have the leverage to do more to directly address and combat police brutality and systemic racism in this country," the staff wrote in a letter to commissioner Adam Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum.
"We acknowledge and credit all the work the NBA has already done," the letter continued. "But we have the power to have a greater impact. The NBA has not done enough proactively, and rather has relied too heavily on our players. ... We understand that we are a business, but fears of losing revenue and advertisers should not numb us to the cries of Black men, women and children that continue to be oppressed in the same communities in which we play."
Employees will meet for a virtual brainstorming session Friday afternoon, sources said. In the letter to Silver and Tatum, staff wrote that they hope to "formally present" those ideas next week. Silver sent an email to employees on Friday morning, before the staff notified high-ranking NBA officials of their decision to protest.
Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by police Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media, sparking protests and causing more athletes to speak out or take action.