NBA players appear to fall in line as Adam Silver says social justice messages will 'largely be left to be delivered off the floor'

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NBA players who have applauded and cheered the league over its push on social-justice messaging on the back of players' jerseys and having “Black Lives Matter” on the floor fell largely silent this week over Commissioner Adam Silver alluding to a “return to normalcy” next season.

Silver said on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” on Sunday it’s likely that those same messages that have been seen during the restarted season in the league "bubble" at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will be moved off the court.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) did not contradict Adam Silver after the commissioner’s remarks on future social justice messaging. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

“We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality and that’s been the case going back decades,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “It’s part of the DNA of this league. How it gets manifested is something we’re gonna have to sit down with the players and discuss for next season."

Taking note of the players' jersey messages and the statements on the courts, Silver said it marked "an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor.

Silver added that he empathizes with “those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.’”

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But while NBA players were quick to push the idea behind the messages through social media and other platforms, most if not all fell silent to push back on Silver’s comments. LeBron James, the league’s biggest voice, Chris Paul, Jaylen Brown and other big-time stars have not reacted to Silver’s comments.

Black Lives Matter was a mainstay message on NBA courts over the summer. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)

Players have used their platform since the start of the abbreviated season to push social-justices messages during games and after games. The NBA has also used in-game breaks during the NBA Finals to remind viewers to register to vote.

The NBA supported players who protested playing in the NBA Playoffs over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin too.

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The NBA’s ratings during the NBA Finals have also seen a dip. Everything from the social justice messaging, to the hot election season, to the increased viewership in cable and sports fatigue has been blamed for the drop.

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