Hours before the first match of the 2019 NBA Mexico City Games tipped off, it was reported that the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks will be participating in basketball games at correctional facilities.
According to the Kings' website, the Represent Justice Campaign put up the "Play for Justice" initiative "to advance the goals of uplifting narratives of hope and redemption, in order to break down stigmas associated with individuals — disproportionately people of color and the poor — who are impacted by the criminal justice system."
The program starts with a facilitated conversation between NBA players, coaches, inmates, and formerly incarcerated members of the campaign. The pros will then serve as "honorary coaches" in a basketball game with league alumni, coaches, and jailbirds.
Caron Butler, who did a year in jail as a young drug dealer, said, "I'm excited to see NBA players and coaches team up with the Represent Justice Campaign to learn more about the legal system and support efforts to build one rooted in dignity. Both on the court and off, this is an opportunity to shape a criminal justice system that touches the lives of millions of Americans, mine included."
Butler went from someone who got apprehended 15 times before he turned 15 to an NBA champion and a two-time All-Star. He's currently a board member of the nonprofit organization Vera Institute of Justice.
As per The Undefeated, Sacramento will host the inaugural Play For Justice affair at an undisclosed prison's renovated outdoor court in Northern California, while Milwaukee will have its event in late December. On February 10 next year, the Kings and Bucks will stage a joint function in the latter's city.
More participating NBA and WNBA teams will be revealed later this month and in early 2020. Aside from basketball games, Play For Justice will also include film screenings and community conversations to promote the cause.