Kyle Korver, Sterling Brown, Anthony Tolliver, Marco Belinelli and Jonathan Isaac are set to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican Monday morning to discuss the role of social and activism in the league moving forward, as the NBA made a concerted effort to shed light on several social issues to support nationwide protests over the summer. NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts is also attending the meeting.
"An assistant to Pope Francis reached out to the players' association last week indicating the Pope wanted to learn more about how players had recently brought attention to pressing social justice issues and economic inequality -- and what they planned for the future," wrote ESPN's Zach Lowe.
Following the deaths of several Black Americans, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, at the hands of the police, protests and marches were organized around the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to speak out against police brutality and systemic racism.
Upon its restart in Orlando, the NBA made it a priority to create a platform for these issues, with players wearing social justice-themed statements on their jerseys and the Milwaukee Bucks even refusing to play in a scheduled game following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc., sparking a league-wide strike that threatened to end the season.
Perhaps the most interesting choice of the five players is Isaac, who is an ordained minister but also was the only player in the bubble who chose not to kneel during the national anthem. When asked about his decision, Isaac explained that he did not believe that "putting that shirt on and kneeling went hand-in-hand with supporting Black lives."