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NBA Dares To Speak Out On Gun Violence

It's an incident largely forgotten, but in 1964, the NBA — then a struggling fourth-string major league — finally got its All-Star Game on prime-time TV. The players refused to leave the locker room until the owners agreed to negotiate with their union. The All-Stars were prepared to strike on what was essentially the most important night in the league's history — and the essence of their own personal future. But they weren't bluffing.

At almost the very last minute, yes, the owners caved, the game went on ABC, and the NBA headed into the big time.

I was reminded of that the other day when the NBA, players and management together, dared start a campaign against gun carnage — emphasizing in television spots that guns are involved in the deaths of 88 Americans every day — and thereby effectively lining up against those, like the NRA, who fight stiffer firearm regulation.

Click the audio to hear Frank Deford's take on this issue.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: December 30, 2015 at 10:00 PM MST
A previous headline said the NBA was addressing "gun control issues" in its TV ads. In fact, the ads address gun violence.
Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.