Starting today and through Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, the NBA begins a league-wide effort to honor the late Dr. King. During tonight’s game at 7:30 p.m. E.T. between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks, the NBA will be running a new spot, “We Must Learn,” which weaves together scenes of peaceful rights protests, including images of NBA players, leaders and coaches partaking in social justice efforts over the past year, as well as people from all walks of life joining on the basketball court. It’s all set to a soundtrack that combines soundbites of Dr. King speaking and instrumental portions of Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think.”
Among those featured in the spot are the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, Dallas Mavericks’ Mark Cuban and Luka Dončić, Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, the Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, f the New Orleans Pelicans’ Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson, the Sacramento Kings’ Vivek Ranadivé, San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
Teams playing games from Jan. 14 through MLK Day will also be wearing custom Nike MLK warm-up gear designed in collaboration with the National Basketball Players Association, the MLK Foundation and Martin Luther King III. The shirt fronts read “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all,” words from MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech from the Aug. 28, 1963 March on Washington, while the backs display, “Honor King” and Dr. King Jr.’s signature. The fonts used were inspired by signs carried during Dr. King Jr.’s memorial march on April 8, 1968.
On Monday at 11 a.m. E.T., the NBA will also be streaming live on its Twitter account a virtual roundtable featuring leaders like Wayne Embry, NBA champ and the league’s first Black general manager; National Civil Rights Museum President Terri Freeman, former Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu and host Caron Butler, NBA champ, Miami Heat assistant coach and Vera Institute of Justice board member. The group will discuss Dr. King Jr.’s vision and explore ways people of all backgrounds can meaningfully impact their communities.