tutorial to understand an important day in the NBA

Tonight is one of the most important nights of the NBA regular season: Martin Luther King Day, or MLK Day. Established to honor the pastor’s action in favor of civil rights for ethnic minorities, this holiday in the United States is also a key date for the North American basketball league. Sit down, we’ll explain.

Martin Luther King Jr.

If you haven’t fallen asleep in history class, this name will quickly ring in your mind. A black pastor born in Atlanta in 1929, he campaigned from 1954 for civil rights in the United States. In a country marked by strong racial segregation, especially in the southern states, he led many actions such as the boycott of Montgomery buses following the arrest of Rosa Parks.

His most famous fact will still remain the historic speech titled “i have a dream” delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on August 28, 1963. After getting the vote of several laws removing any principle of racial segregation in the United States in 1964 and 1965, he would dedicate himself thereafter to the fight against poverty, while also committing himself against the war in Vietnam . He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray, a segregationist. A national mourning was declared by President Lyndon Johnson and the pastor’s funeral will gather more than 300,000 people.

The NBA link? You may not know it yet, but he is very powerful. On April 4, 1968, Bill Russell’s Celtics faced Wilt Chamberlain’s Sixers in the Playoffs. If then-NBA President Walter Kennedy left the decision up to the franchises, the owners wanted to keep the game. Deeply involved in the fight for equality, Russell consulted with his team – eight of its ten members were black – to see if they should play the part. The same will be done on the Sixers side.

Both teams eventually agreed to participate, not wanting to create further disturbances to those that occurred in most of the country’s major cities. The match in question will be soullessthe players without a head for the sport after the great uproar of the announcement of the death of Martin Luther King Jr.

Nearly 15 years of political debate followed to try to make the third Monday of January a public holiday to honor the man who enabled so much civil progress in Uncle Sam’s country. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a law officially establishing this holiday. MLK Day was born, it was held for the first time in 1986.

Arrived in 1984 at the head of the NBA, David Stern answered the topic and also established MLK Day: a special day of fights on the third Monday of January, where teams will play throughout the day to highlight Doctor King action. Committed to making the league as inclusive as possible, Stern also shows admirable severity to those who reject this proposal. The Governor of Arizona opposes the observance of the holiday? The NBA would not hold an event in Phoenix until 1994.

This day is since the opportunity to use the league hearing to talk about the history of Martin Luther King Jr, but also to evoke its legacy and the current struggles of minorities, in a country still marked by racist acts in recent years. Games for everyone, whether in the United States or elsewhere because game day spans most time zones prime time global.

Every year, about twenty teams – 18 this season, to be precise – therefore play to remember the life of the pastor but all franchises are involved, like the Nets who gave their tribute last night. The NBA also organizes social actions that are carried out to people in need on this day.

Happy MLK Day everyone! Beyond basketball, the memory functions for a person’s fight in favor of equality. The players will treat us tonight on the field, with a heart to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, without him many things would probably not be the same today in the United States.

Sources: France Info, ESPN, National Civil Rights Museum, NBA.

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