WATCH: NBA stars team up with Spike Lee to speak out against gun violence in powerful PSA
New campaign the result of a partnership between the NBA and gun control group – ‘We can all make a difference’
Vaunted NBA players Stephen Curry and Carmelo Anthony appeared in a first-of-its-kind campaign against gun violence which debuted during the NBA’s Christmas day game slate on Friday.
The public service announcement is the result of a partnership between the NBA and Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence advocacy group started by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Chris Paul and Joakim Noah join Curry, Anthony, victims of gun violence and their families in the 30-second spot.
“We can all make a difference,” said the Chicago Bull’s Joakim Noah at the end of the ad.
It is unusual for a major sports league to align itself so closely with a gun control group, but the NBA stressed that it worked with Everytown’s educational wing and not it’s political lobby for the campaign.
Mike Bass, the NBA’s chief spokesman, told the New York Times that the ads “are solely intended to raise awareness about the issue of personal safety in our communities.”
The campaign came together with the help of director Spike Lee, a member of Everytown’s creative council. He brought the idea to the NBA, which donated advertising time for the ads.
Jason Rzepka, Everytown’s director of cultural engagement, said the group has three other spots ready to air.
The first spot, which does not contain any policy recommendations, was scheduled to run five times on Friday, during the NBA’s Christmas game blitz.
Rzepka also said that the NBA sees the spotnot as a single PSA, but rather a continued campaign.
“There are people that work at the NBA that either know people that were lost to gun violence or have seen the headlines we all see every week and are fed up with it,” Rzepka told SB Nation. “They understood they had an opportunity to make a significant impact and do something about it.”
“I’m proud of the NBA for taking a stand against gun violence,” Obama said. “Sympathy for victims isn’t enough – change requires all of us speaking up.”
While it is unusual for the NBA to align so closely with a politicized issue, its athletes have a history of speaking out against injustices.
Noah has worked to combat violence in the south and west sides of Chicago through community outreach programs; and Anthony joined a peace march in Baltimore earlier this year in the wake of protests against the city’s police department.
A special Everytown website dedicated to the NBA campaign includes longer clips from interviews with the victims and athletes.
“As a father and a professional athlete, I know there are people counting on me to send the right message and set an example,” Paul said, in an Everytown interview. “So, I want to lead others to raise ourselves up from gun violence and save lives. I’m proud to spread the message that we can accomplish an America free from gun violence.”
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