By Nick Gallo | Broadcast Reporter and Digital Editor | okcthunder.com
When Thunder center Derrick Favors running on the floor Monday night in Dallas, he’ll don an NBA-developed warm-up jersey that pays homage to a specific moment in American history.
With a script designed after signs held at a rally just days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the shirts will read “NOW IS TIME TO MAKE JUSTICE HAPPEN FOR ALL”, with “HONOR KING” on the back. During the NBA’s celebration of MLK Day, which features 12 games and 24 of 30 teams in action, the focus will not only be on basketball, but also on the legacy of King’s fight for the game. ‘equality.
“It’s a special day, a special moment, a special game,” Favors said. “It’s an opportunity to come out there and remember what it stood for, remember what it stood for and make it a great day to play basketball.”
While Dr. King’s legacy is honored across America and the NBA still emphasizes the day, for Favors the celebration hits a little closer to home, literally. As a standout at South Atlanta High School, Favors grew up less than 20 minutes from Dr. King’s homes on Auburn Avenue and Sunset Avenue, Morehouse College which King attended as an undergrad, Ebenezer Baptist Church where King served as Minister and Rich’s Department Store where King ran a famous sit-in.
When Favors enrolled at Georgia Tech for college, he was less than 10 minutes from all of these destinations. MLK Day 2022, which lands two days after what would have been Dr. King’s 93rd anniversary, these historic Atlanta landmarks are still revered. These days there are also countless murals with his face and quotes on them, not to mention the King Center which is a short walk from Dr. King’s birthplace and Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Park, all within a short drive of where Favors grew up and hangs out during the offseason.
“Almost all of Atlanta is MLK,” Favors said with a smile.
In the summer of 2020, the commitment of the United States and the NBA to a similar kind of justice that Dr. King fought for took on renewed energy, sparking a dialogue that continues nearly two years later. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the shooting of Jacob Blake created a crescendo that propelled the desire for true equality under the law to the forefront of hearts and minds across the country. Favors believes that it should not be only at the time of tragedy or on Dr. King’s birthday that the concept of justice should be discussed. Instead, there should be obvious actions taken throughout the year.
“It shouldn’t take something that happened for everyone to bring up this conversation,” Favors said. “It’s something that should always be discussed, discussed, and hopefully we can continue to improve and move in the right direction.”
“It should be something that’s always talked about and always thought about, and also something that people do, not just by talking,” Favors said. “Action speaks louder than words.”
Something concrete What the Thunder organization did is launch the Thunder Fellows program, which welcomed its first cohort of black high school students to Tulsa last fall. The program aims to improve education and opportunities for black students in the fields of data science and analytics. There’s a lean toward sports and entertainment, with guest speakers from high-end companies like Google, HBO, Universal Music Group, Wilson Sporting Goods, and even the Thunder’s basketball science department.
Favors is also focused on raising the next generation in the form of a cohort even closer to home than the city of Atlanta — her three children. He remembers his own childhood in Atlanta, where Dr. King was not just a school subject on the third Monday in January or during Black History Month, but was part of reminders throughout the year. since primary school.
With twin daughters and a son under 8, Favors knows he still has time to go before he can truly pass on Dr. King’s wisdom and message to his children, but he believes that in order to pursue a brighter future, Americans must remember what the best of our ancestors learned, and that those lessons of the past are still relevant today.
“As we get older, we’ll start to have those kinds of conversations and we’ll definitely make sure they learn about not just MLK, but all the good historical figures in the world and know what they meant, what they stood for.” , Favors mentioned.