NBA Leaders speak on diversity and inclusion ahead of season tipoff, All-Star Game in Cleveland

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:58 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - NBA leaders gathered downtown Friday to speak on diversity and inclusion ahead of the 2021 season and next year’s All-Star game at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

“There’s an important role we can play, and a role we’re trying to play,” Oris Stuart, Chief People and Inclusion Officers with the NBA said.

Stuart, along with Kevin Clayton, Cavaliers Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion; and Bonnie Thurston, WNBA Director of Player Programs, shared their experiences and insight at the City Club of Cleveland.

Stuart explained the social movements from the past few years mean teams can no longer remain isolated: “It’s forced us all to come to terms with what’s happening in the world around us.”

For Clayton, this change means embracing new challenges, like the digital divide exposed by the global pandemic.

“We are bringing some resources that we will be announcing next week, and it came from players telling owners ‘this is what we want to do,’” he explained.

Thurston also elaborated: “Players have just not want to ‘shut up and dribble,’ to quote Lebron James, and we want to support that.”

Through the hour-long conversation, panelists also recognized action is crucial.

Clayton has already implemented programs in Cleveland, including career fairs that open minority students’ ideas to opportunities and careers surrounding sports.

“Thinking about a career in sports, isn’t something that’s a top-of-mind for most black and brown kids,” he said.

As teams across the country prepare for a new season of basketball, Stuart is reminding Cleveland—and everyone—to not forget the power of sports.

“Sports, like music and food, bring people together,” he said.

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