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The league and the union have a message to the players: feel free to not just ‘stick to sports.’
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and and NBAPA executive director Michelle Roberts are encouraging NBA players to be more vocal on social issues.

The two co-signed on a letter to the players, asking them to be even more outspoken.

“None of us operates in a vacuum. Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly,” the letter said, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. “Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players — you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”

This is an interesting request. Prior to Colin Kaepernick (and subsequent players after) kneeling during the national anthem, NBA’s players were generally considered the most socially active of all of the sports — especially team sports.

While President Donald Trump has yet to extend an invitation, prominent members of the Golden State Warriors have made it clear that they have no interest in visiting him for the traditional championship White House visit. Prominent NBA stars (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul) have all been outspoken on various social issues, including some that don’t particularly pertain to President Trump.

By comparison, most of the NFL’s outspoken players are nowhere near as high profile as any of the aforementioned NBA stars and they certainly weren’t before any national anthem protests.

Obviously, being socially aware is more than just speaking out about gun violence, or endorsing a particular candidate. But it would be interesting to know if Silver and Roberts had any specific ideas in mind, or it’s just more of a general desire.

30 SLIDES
Best draft pick in the history of each NBA organization


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src: ‘/media/1/b/1bc7f703981218c4f0372225918199f7b3ee5f65/xl/2.jpg’,
title: ‘Boston Celtics: Larry Bird, F’,
description: ‘

Bird had a Hall of Fame career in Boston after being selected sixth overall in 1978. He averaged 24.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, winning three MVPs and three NBA Championships.

Focus on Sport / Getty Images


}
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{
src: ‘/media/b/d/bd54de255726eb6f9f688c58a809392551c177e9/xl/3.jpg’,
title: ‘Brooklyn Nets: Buck Williams, F’,
description: ‘

Williams went third overall in the 1982 draft after playing his college ball at Maryland. He went on to have a long and productive career with the Nets, Portland, and Knicks, making three All-Star Game appearances and winning the 1981-82 Rookie of the Year award.

Brian Drake / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/2/a/2acad3877ca7c2242a60053784b1dc26e81ca8de/xl/4.jpg’,
title: ‘Charlotte Hornets: Kobe Bryant, G’,
description: ‘

The Hornets selected Bryant 13th overall in 1996, making him the first guard to ever be taken out of high school. He was promptly traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac and had an incredible 20-year career in LA. The 18-time All-Star won five NBA Championships, averaging 25.0 points for his career.

Andy Hayt / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/9/1/9175019101be9de8d37243e0d2c28227ee001749/xl/5.jpg’,
title: ‘Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, G’,
description: ‘

Up until LeBron James, there was rarely debate about the greatest player in NBA history after Jordan completed his career. The five-time MVP went third overall to the Bulls in 1984 and won six NBA Championships in Chicago. He averaged 30.1 points per game for his career and finished his playing days with two seasons in Washington.

NBA Photos / National Basketball Association


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,
{
src: ‘/media/2/c/2c947abbade1be2a92fe7fd8366e87f108b7663e/xl/6.jpg’,
title: ‘Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James, F’,
description: ‘

James remains arguably the best player in the NBA and has a chance to win his fourth NBA Title in 2017. The four-time MVP has averaged 27.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks through his age 32 season. He went first overall to the Cavs in 2003.

Kirby Lee / Getty Images


}
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{
src: ‘/media/f/e/fecd27de1211e96188f2e14d3e05e5e41be5b9d0/xl/7.jpg’,
title: ‘Dallas Mavericks: Jason Kidd, G’,
description: ‘

Arguably the best point guard of his era, Kidd averaged 12.6 points and 8.7 assists during his 19-year career. He was selected second overall by the Mavs in 1994.

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/6/2/62796d955f7c4f6185844477eb68ca44bd97ab47/xl/8.jpg’,
title: ‘Denver Nuggets: Carmelo Anthony, F’,
description: ‘

Anthony has had a long and productive career as a scorer with the Nuggets and Knicks. He was taken third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft after winning a National Championship at Syracuse and has averaged 24.8 points and 6.6 rebounds through his age 32 season.

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/1/4/14ad5cb42b6c751764c872489a1610f60d06450e/xl/9.jpg’,
title: ‘Detroit Pistons: Bob Lanier, C’,
description: ‘

Over 14 NBA seasons, Lanier made eight All-Star appearances, averaging 20.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He was selected first overall in 1970 by the Pistons.

Dick Raphael / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/f/a/faee587a80366c342fd6f4f4b651440109add87b/xl/10.jpg’,
title: ‘Golden State Warriors: Wilt Chamberlain, C’,
description: ‘

One of the greatest NBA players of all-time, Chamberlain was selected by the Philadelphia Warriors as a territorial selection in 1959. He led the league in points per game in each of his first seven seasons and rebounds per game in 11 of his 14 NBA seasons. The four-time MVP won two NBA titles.

Dick Raphael / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/e/d/ed301314d08cebbf95b8b6da539eb13c68611b35/xl/11.jpg’,
title: ‘Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon, C’,
description: ‘

Olajuwon went first overall in 1984, two picks ahead of Michael Jordan. It’s hard to imagine the Rockets regret the pick after Olajuwon won one MVP and two NBA titles, along with 12 All-Star appearances. He averaged 21.8 points and 11.1 rebounds over his 18-year career.

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/6/f/6fb9ebbeff5c5423b0b961bca30df0a85734c796/xl/12.jpg’,
title: ‘Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller, G’,
description: ‘

Miller spent his entire 18-year career with the Pacers after being selected 11th overall in 1987. He averaged 18.2 points per game, shooting nearly 40 percent from three, and made five All-Star appearances.

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/e/1/e1aa869b5339082d06e7dd0b2287f900a0f0be56/xl/13.jpg’,
title: ‘Los Angeles Clippers: Adrian Dantley, F’,
description: ‘

Taken sixth overall by the Buffalo Braves (now Los Angeles Clippers) in 1976, Dantley was traded to the Pacers and then the Lakers over the next year. Dantley played for seven different teams during his career, averaging 24.3 points per game.

NBA Photos / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/9/1/91458da6c6648392488fadf683d19b33f947cce0/xl/14.jpg’,
title: ‘Los Angeles Lakers: Jerry West, G’,
description: ‘

West made a huge impact for the Lakers both as a player and in the front office. He averaged 27.0 points and 6.7 asissts during his 14-year career in LA, making the All-Star team in all 14 seasons and winning the 1972 NBA Championship.

NBA Photos / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/a/1/a1d437263d7423fb6c160a06e4390574ddbb727c/xl/15.jpg’,
title: ‘Memphis Grizzlies: Shane Battier, F’,
description: ‘

Battier was taken sixth overall in 2001 and had a much better NBA career than many give him credit. He was a two-time All-Defensive player and won two NBA Championships.

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association


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{
src: ‘/media/b/b/bbe5f0c182bc42a41b564e7c6585ce02d3e61bf8/xl/16.jpg’,
title: ‘Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade, G’,
description: ‘

Now with the Bulls, Wade remains productive in his mid-30’s. He won three NBA Championships with the Heat and has made 12 All-Star appearances. He went fifth overall in the incredibly talented 2003 Draft.

Jesse D. Garrabrant / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/d/f/df1eb88a4d4e335b4c5d2fba68a4a359d7bb3fad/xl/17.jpg’,
title: ‘Milwaukee Bucks: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C’,
description: ‘

While Abdul-Jabbar played most of his career with the Lakers, his first six seasons were in Milwaukee. Drafted first overall out of UCLA in 1969, he went on to make 19 All-Star appearances and win six NBA Championships.

Tony Tomsic / WireImage


}
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{
src: ‘/media/d/2/d2b2d81f1becdd19b0269e00ae53fce275efbf90/xl/18.jpg’,
title: ‘Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett, F’,
description: ‘

The fifth overall pick in the 1995 Draft out of high school, Garnett is a surefire Hall of Famer after 15 All-Star appearances and 12 All-Defensive designations. He averaged a double-double for his career.

Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/3/d/3d0f6caf82381bd3b4c470464e005bf29c35425a/xl/19.jpg’,
title: ‘New Orleans Pelicans: Chris Paul, G’,
description: ‘

CP3 played his first six seasons in New Orleans before going to the Clippers. He’s averaged 18.7 points and 9.9 assists per game for his career.

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/7/3/730f5f769ab5d4b87fe54bd00a819767d59de95a/xl/20.jpg’,
title: ‘New York Knicks: Patrick Ewing, C’,
description: ‘

An NBA Hall of Famer after 11 All-Star appearances, Ewing averaged 21.0 points, 2.4 blocks, and 9.8 total rebounds for his career. He went first overall in the 1985 NBA Draft.

Noren Trotman / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/c/8c7f4929c868862759b878d7bb608417283c8a41/xl/21.jpg’,
title: ‘Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant, F’,
description: ‘

Durant has been an elite NBA player since the SuperSonics drafted him second overall in 2007 behind Greg Oden. After playing nine seasons in the Seattle/Oklahoma City organization, Durant signed with Golden State last offseason. He is a seven-time All-NBA and won the 2013-14 MVP.

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/e/4/e4e6a5ed9d7356a4e1f5300e182eba46512f40d1/xl/22.jpg’,
title: ‘Orlando Magic: Shaquille O’Neal, C’,
description: ‘

Shaq needs no introduction as arguably the most dominant center in NBA history. He’s a four-time NBA Champion, though none of that success occurred until he left Orlando. He was also the 1999-00 MVP and a 15-time All-Star. The Magic selected O’Neal first overall out of LSU in 1992.

NBA Photos / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/e/d/edfc2186924b9b798ca3fbce66547656aebc16f0/xl/23.jpg’,
title: ‘Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Barkley, F’,
description: ‘

Barkley has made just as big of a name for himself as a studio commentator as he did during his Hall of Fame career. He was the 1992-93 MVP and made 11 All-Star appearances between Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Houston. Sir Charles averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game for his career.

Brian Drake / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/e/8/e8a0c7d76e98c894d5eab7494fa2ea1fb27a7c34/xl/24.jpg’,
title: ‘Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash, G’,
description: ‘

Nash turned into a spectacular NBA point guard after the Suns selected him 15th overall in 1996. He averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists for his career along with two league MVPs.

Andy Hayt / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/a/8/a84825bdfde2a05dee6126935599262523bf48af/xl/25.jpg’,
title: ‘Portland Trail Blazers: Clyde Drexler, G’,
description: ‘

Drexler developed into a star after being selected 14th overall in 1983 by the Blazers. He made 10 All-Star appearances and averaged 20.4 points per game for his career.

Brian Drake / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/2/9/29cdc44e64e8437ba1c9f7b6d4af4b062fc6214e/xl/26.jpg’,
title: ‘Sacramento Kings: Oscar Robertson, G’,
description: ‘

Selected first overall in 1960 by the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings), Robertson was a 12-team All-Star and the 1960-61 Rookie of the Year. He averaged 25.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game during his career.

Focus on Sport


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/b/8b541a027f9425679dcfdd4078da71af07f32196/xl/27.jpg’,
title: ‘San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, F’,
description: ‘

Duncan surpassed former teammate David Robinson as the best Spurs draft pick of all time as a 15-time All-Star and two-time MVP. He won five NBA Championships with the Spurs, averaging 19.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game during his career.

Craig Jones / Getty Images


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/8/8/8812ad17c0d9cffed95068c445d36a0d0e577ca1/xl/28.jpg’,
title: ‘Toronto Raptors: Chris Bosh, F’,
description: ‘

The Raptors took Bosh fourth overall in 2003, and he’s had a great career between Toronto and Miami. Bosh has averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds per game during his career.

Jennifer Pottheiser / National Basketball Association


}
,
{
src: ‘/media/c/3/c3501a3e64bbf9cb28cb30e6f85c2518d593736b/xl/29.jpg’,
title: ‘Utah Jazz: Karl Malone, F’,
description: ‘

A 14-time All-Star and two-time MVP, Malone was a prolific scorer alongside John Stockton in Utah. He averaged 25.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game during his career. Utah drafted Malone 13th overall in 1985.

Rocky Widner / National Basketball Association


}
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{
src: ‘/media/7/5/75554b497362f1db0c070a11f9dae682e0dc90a1/xl/30.jpg’,
title: ‘Washington Wizards: Walt Bellamy, C’,
description: ‘

Bellamy was the first overall pick of the Chicago Packers (now Washington Wizards) in 1961. He averaged 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds for his career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Bettmann


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Best draft pick in the history of each NBA organization

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