NBA ‘We Must Learn’ Starts Integrated Tribute To/Celebration Of Dr Martin Luther King

On 13 January, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association launched a joint campaign celebrating the life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr ahead of his 18 January national holiday.


The campaign tipped off with the launch a 30-second spot featuring some of the game’s biggest stars and some of the stirring words of the murdered civil rights icon.


The spot blends on- and off-court footage of a diverse group of hoops stars – including LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jaylen Brown, Luka Dončić, Lonzo Ball and Zion Williamson – set to King’s timeless call for justice and harmony.


“More than anything else, we’ve got to learn to love.
Because we are all tied together.
We must act now.
We are in America and we got to learn how to live together.
We ain’t going nowhere.
We need to learn how to love.”



The ad broke during TNT and ESPN’s coverage of the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Nicks game and was posted simultaneously across the league’s digital and social platforms.


The idea behind the campaign is that the NBA is inextricably linked to the values and teachings of King and the spot states that the league will pay tribute to him on 18 January as it offers a respectful tribute to his life and legacy through stories of unity, togetherness and equality.


Plus, NBA teams playing between 14 and 18 January will wear custom Nike warmup tees designed in collaboration with the NBA Players Association, the MLK Foundation and Martin Luther King III.


These t-shirts read “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all”: a key line from King’s historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from 28 August 1963.


The back of the shirt says “Honor King” and includes his signature.


These messages are written in a font derived from signs that appeared in the memorial march on 8 April 1968 – four days after King was assassinated in Memphis.


Furthermore, on Monday 18 January the @NBA Twitter account, the league’s fan app and its NBA.com website will host a virtual roundtable to discuss the modern push for social justice.


The league’s first Black general manager Wayne Embry, National Civil Rights Museum president Terri Freeman, and E Pluribus Unum founder and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will participate, along with host Caron Butler, a Miami Heat assistant coach and Vera Institute of Justice board member.





This tactical, event-specific follows on from the league’s season-opening ‘Only Here’ campaign.








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