Five NBA players and several officials from the NBA Players Association recently met with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss social injustice. The meeting took place on Monday morning, and the Pope wanted to talk to the NBA players about how they brought attention to some of the biggest issues going as well as what they have planned for the future, according to ESPN. The NBA Players Association agreed to have the meeting after the Pope's assistant reached out to the union last week, and a flight was scheduled for Sunday night.
The group of NBA players that went to see the Pope were Kyle Korver and Sterling Brown; Jonathan Isaac of the Orlando Magic; Anthony Tolliver, the union's secretary-treasurer; Marco Belinelli; and Michele Roberts, executive director of the players' union. The meeting with Pope Francis lasted for an hour at the papal library of the Apostolic Palace. The union said the players discussed their "individual and collective efforts addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in their communities." The players then presented the Pope with a commemorative basketball, a union-produced book and an Orlando Magic Jersey.
"We are extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis," Korver said. "His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward." Roberts explained to the Pope why then wanted to visit and talk to him despite the NBA starting things back up in a couple of weeks with training camp.
"We're here because, frankly, we're inspired by the work that you do globally," Roberts said during the meeting via the Associated Press. The Pope also sent a message to the players, completing them for their efforts and off the court.
"You're champions," Pope Francis said. "But also giving the example of teamwork, you've become a model, giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble ... and preserving your own humanity." The meeting was made possible due to the efforts of the players during the 2020 season restart in Orlando this past summer. Players began wearing messages related to social justice on their jerseys, including "Say Their Names," "Equality" and "Enough." The league also had the phrase "Black Lives Matter" painted on the courts.