The NBA has tipped off its leaguewide celebration of Black History Month. Through the month of February and going forward, the league and each team will honor Black history and support the ongoing pursuit of racial justice by elevating the voices, experiences, and perspectives of Black players, coaches, employees, and fans through various activations across the league and teams.


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During February all NBA teams will wear cusom NBA Black History Month warm-ups that feature “BUILT BY BLACK HISTORY.” The “BUILT BY” letters, designed by Nike, were inspired by African quilt patterns while the words “BLACK HISTORY” feature significant years in NBA history when the league’s Black trailblazers broke barriers and stood up for the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Those moments and players include:

1950: Chuck Cooper, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, Harold Hunter and Earl Lloyd became the first Black players in the NBA.

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1958: Bill Russell was the first Black player to be voted NBA MVP.

1965: Oscar Robertson became the first Black president of the NBPA.

1966: Bill Russell was hired by the Celtics as the NBA’s first Black head coach.  The next season he became the first Black coach to win an NBA championship (1968), winning again in 1969.

1972: The Milwaukee Bucks hired Wayne Embry as the NBA’s first Black general manager and team president.

2004: Robert Johnson became the first Black majority owner in U.S. professional sports, purchasing the Charlotte Bobcats expansion team.

2020: A pivotal year for sports and society, the NBA and NBPA agreed that advancing social justice was a shared goal of the 2019-20 season restart.  Players, coaches and teams took daily action to confront systemic racism and mobilize record participation in the civic process.  The NBA family also came together to form the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and the first-ever NBA Foundation to address issues of racial injustice and invest in economic empowerment in the Black community.

You can learn more about the league’s celebrations of Black History Month by visiting NBA.com/BHM.

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