NBA player welcomed by the Pope in the Vatican to demand justice

Pope Francis praised the delegation of NBA players who met him in the Vatican on Monday as “champions” and said he supported their work on social justice.

Marco Belinelli, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac, Kyle Korver, Anthony Tollive, NBA union executive director Michel Roberts and two other union executives, Sherry Dean and Matteo Zuletti has joined.

“Frankly, we are here because we are inspired by the work you do worldwide,” Roberts told the Pope during a conference at the Pope Library. ..

The union said players talked about “their personal and collective efforts to address social and economic injustices and inequality in their communities.” Belinelli addressed the Pope in Italian, and the group presented the Pope with gifts such as commemorative basketball, union-produced books highlighting the efforts of the players, and Orlando Magic jerseys.

“You are the champion,” said Pope Francis. “But with the Teammoke example, you’re a model and a good example of teamwork, but you’re always humble … and you’re maintaining your own personality.”

The audience was held a few days before Pope Francis published a book in support of the demands for racial justice, especially the actions taken following the killing of a black man, George Floyd, who died in May. A Minneapolis police officer pressed his knees against his neck for a few minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.

Roberts said Pope Francis is seeking a meeting with the players, which “shows the influence of their platform.” The demand for social and racial justice has been of paramount importance among players, especially in the last few months after the deaths of Floyd and Breona Taylor.

In his remarks to the Pope, Brown told him what he and Milwaukee Bucks had experienced in the NBA’s restart bubble-especially the playoffs with Orlando in response to the shooting of a black man, Jacob Break. According to police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when deciding to participate in the game.

“It was raw and emotional for our team,” Brown told the Pope.

After being knocked down to the ground, Brown sued Milwalky officials, was shocked by a taser gun, and was arrested during a 2018 police encounter. A settlement was agreed this month that Brown would receive $ 750,000 plus approval from the city that his civil rights had been violated.

“It is a great honor to come to the Vatican on this occasion and share our experience with Pope Francis,” Korver said. “His candidness and enthusiasm to discuss these issues was inspiring and reminded us that our work has a global impact and we must continue to move forward.”


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NBA player welcomed by the Pope in the Vatican to demand justice

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