NBA TV will premiere a new episode of the critically-acclaimed Open Court, a roundtable discussion featuring a full cast of NBA TV and TNT commentators, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, following that night’s NBA Fan Night game. Open Court: Basketball and Society is a special edition of the show commemorating Black History Month with candid dialogue on topics ranging from race relations and segregation to how sports have helped bring ethnicities together.
Sports Emmy® Award-winning studio host Ernie Johnson moderates the panel with Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller, five-time NBA Champion Steve Kerr, four-time NBA Champion Shaquille O’Neal, two-time NBA Champion Kenny Smith, five-time NBA All-Star Chris Webber and NBA Champion Steve Smith.
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Quotes from Open Court: Basketball and Society:
Charles Barkley on how sports can help alleviate racism: “Sports is the coolest thing to combat [being a minority]. When you talk to the older black guys who did all the heavy lifting for us, they always talk about the only time they felt comfortable was when they were around their teammates…I’ve never been on a team that had any racial issues.”
Reggie Miller on remembering those who laid the groundwork for future generations: “We can’t forget the people who made the pavement for us and laid the ground for us. It’s easy for us to get up in front of everyone and speak. But a lot of players who played in the ’50’s and ’60’s didn’t have a voice. A lot of times, I feel like we’re speaking for those players and that’s what I’m so appreciative of and every time I see them, I let them know that.”
Steve Smith on younger generations not getting equal opportunities: “If you’re not given that opportunity from a public school…if you’re raised in a lower income and the public schools aren’t up to standard to give you that opportunity, a kid is never going to get a chance other than looking at another avenue like music or sports. You really don’t have to go to school to play sports…when you are looking at other avenues, you have to have that basis starting in kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade. They are not getting awarded that opportunity.”
Shaquille O’Neal on the importance of teaching future generations: “We need to reveal our secrets to the children. Even though it was very difficult for me with the way I [grew] up, it was very easy [to succeed]. Born and raised in New Jersey, I saw you guys [in the NBA], I formulated a plan, followed the dream and continued my education. If it wasn’t for guys like [Charles] Barkley and Wilt [Chamberlain], I wouldn’t have known what I wanted to be…We need to let children know that although it can be very difficult, it can be easy to get where you want to be.”
Kenny Smith on “survival mode” vs. “strive mode”: “We’ve always been brought up, as African-American kids, that we have to survive. We’ve got to get out of ‘survival mode’ and into ‘strive mode.’ When you’re in ‘survival mode,’ you might do things that are uncharacteristic of who you really are. But when you’re in ‘strive mode’ and you’re striving to do something, then you will pick the things that will make you go further.”
Steve Kerr on the strength of trust between teammates: “The trust and the bond that develops through sports just transcends race. Trusting a teammate was pretty natural regardless of color or race.”
Barrier Breakers presented by Allstate
In addition to the Open Court episode, NBA TV’s Black History Month programming will also include the return of “Barrier Breakers presented by Allstate” a series of vignettes which will air on the network. The segments will pay tribute to the game’s most influential pioneers and sports legends which have influenced the game of basketball. The pieces will consist of live interviews, pre-produced packages and reflections from NBA TV commentators. The first “Barrier Breakers presented by Allstate,” airing Saturday, Feb. 2, during the 7:30 p.m. edition of the AutoTrader.com Pregame Show, will highlight Chuck Cooper, who was one of the first African-American players in the NBA. Other honorees, who will be featured throughout February, include Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Lenny Wilkens and Red Auerbach.
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