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NBA players meet with Pope Francis, discuss social justice

Five members of the NBPA met with Pope Francis at the Vatican earlier on Monday.

The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Five NBA players were part of a delegation that met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday to discuss social justice.

Marco Belinelli, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac, Kyle Korver and Anthony Tolliver were joined by NBA players’ union exeutive director Michele Roberts and two other union executives — Sherrie Deans and Matteo Zuretti.

The union said the players spoke about their “individual and collective efforts addressing social and economic injustice and inequality occurring in their communities.”

The audience came days before a book comes out in which Pope Francis supports demands for racial justice, specifically the actions taken following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in May. A police officer in Minneapolis pressed a knee against his neck for minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.

Roberts said Pope Francis sought the meeting with the players, and that it “demonstrates the influence of their platforms.” Demands for social and racial justice have been paramount among players, especially in recent months following the deaths of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others.

“We are extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis,” Korver said. “His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward.”

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