How Spike Lee, John Skipper and the NBA Teamed Up to Take on Gun Violence (Video)

The filmmaker proposed a series of ads that will air Christmas Day on ABC and ESPN during basketball games

Last Updated: December 24, 2015 @ 6:54 AM

Update Dec. 24, 6:30 a.m.:

The NBA reached out to TheWrap to clarify that they are working with Everytown for Gun Safety’s educational arm, not political lobby.

“The public service announcement airing during our Christmas Day games highlights victims’ and a few of our players’ experiences with gun violence and is solely intended to raise awareness about the issue of personal safety in our communities,” Mike Bass, the N.B.A.’s chief spokesman, told the New York Times.

Bass stressed that the ads do not “advocate for any change in law or policy, and instead focus on “trying to make our communities stronger and safer for kids and families.”

Previously:

Spike Lee‘s passion for basketball and social advocacy has resulted in a series of anti-gun violence ads that will air during the NBA games on Christmas Day.

The New York Times reported that “with little precedent in professional sports,” the “Chi-Raq” director brokered a partnership between the National Basketball Association and the educational arm of non-profit organization Everytown for Gun Safety for the commercials featuring players calling for an end to gun violence.

“I heard about a shooting involving a 3-year-old girl over the summer,” Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry says on camera. “My daughter Riley’s that age.”

He’s joined by a mix of other basketball pros and concerned citizens hoping to reduce the rates of gun violence in America by raising awareness without the use of the expression “gun control,” which isn’t mentioned.

Lee reportedly proposed the idea to ESPN president John Skipper over breakfast at Loews Regency Hotel in Manhattan last month, and Skipper brought it to NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Everytown for Gun Safety paid for the production of the commercials, and the league agreed to donate time it controls during games on ABC and ESPN, which will broadcast the ads on Christmas Day.

“Because of the N.R.A., politicians and the gun manufacturers, we’re dying under that tyranny,” Lee, whose latest film addresses gun violence in Chicago, said. “Ninety Americans are dying every day because of the N.R.A., gun manufacturers, and politicians willing to run you under the table.”

Kathleen Behrens, the NBA’s president of social responsibility and player programs, told the Times that the league isn’t “worried about any political implications” by being the first major professional sports organization to take a stance on the divisive issue.

“We know far too many people who have been caught up in gun violence in this country,” she said. “And we can do something about it.”

Watch one of the PSAs (above) that will air five times on Friday.

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