For the first time this year, all employees of the NBA were given paid time off to observe, celebrate, and honour Juneteenth. Several NBA teams announced plans to do the same or honour the holiday with some form of celebration.
Juneteenth is the annual holiday, on June 19th, observed to celebrate the end of slavery in America.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the national holiday allows the league "to pause, further educate ourselves and reflect on both the history and the current state of race in our country."
Here's a look at how some of the franchises honoured the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth:
In the nation's capital, members from different branches of the Wizards and Washington Mystics - players, coaches, staff - held a silent "Together We Stand" march to commemorate the special day.
Notable players like Bradley Beal, John Wall, Rui Hachimura, and Natasha Cloud from the Wizards and Mystics were in attendance for this march that ended at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
We will no longer be silent.#TogetherWeStand | #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/LCjuRhdIlV- Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) June 19, 2020
"This march was just a steppingstone. Now our real action and our real trials begin. Together we stand," Beal said at the march.
In Chicago, Bulls forward Wendell Carter Jr. and head coach Jim Boylen led a contingent of coaching staff and other Bulls' staff in a silent march through Grand Park.
Bigger than basketball #Juneteenth pic.twitter.com/XcuiZ1FtIA- Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) June 19, 2020
In Denver, members of the Nuggets' coaching staff and front office participated in a silent march.
#Juneteenth #MileHighBasketball- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 19, 2020
📸| https://t.co/t6BXGW2VuA pic.twitter.com/fHuJwrBe7j
"I'm trying to lend my support and be an ally to end the racism, police brutality, and all the other things we're fighting to change," coach Mike Malone said about participating in the march.
The Heat released a video pldeging to make "financial contirbutions to organizations working to rid the world of racial inequality". The video includes several prominent members of their franchise including managing general partner Micky Arison, team president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra.
Our Pledge for Social Justice- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 19, 2020
We will not sit on the sidelines. This is just the beginning.#BlackLivesMatter | #Juneteenth pic.twitter.com/ZGqk8cfhKe
"Let us be perfectly clear," Arison said. "This is just the beginning. Our commitment is never-ending."
Several other NBA teams recognized the day by spreading the message of freedom.
The Memphis Grizzlies asked their fans to follow the National Civil Rights Museum to educate themselves on all race-related matters and further the conversation. The Orlando Magic called Juneteenth - "a day to stand in solidarity and a day for education, connection, and celebration to recognize and celebrate Black history & culture."
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