Martin Luther King Jr. Day is cause for celebration in the NBA.
The league has once again scheduled a full slate of games on the Monday the country remembers the life and message of America’s most important civil rights leader. And this year, the Denver Nuggets find themselves part of it.
They take on the Orlando Magic at 3 p.m. Monday at the Pepsi Center. The game is one of nine in the day.
On Sunday, Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler and Mike Malone said they were happy to be a small part of the NBA’s effort to honor King’s life.
“I think it’s amazing anytime you get to celebrate what a guy like that did,” Chandler said. “He did a lot for this country, a lot for his people. He lost his life doing so. He gave his whole life to it. I think it’s amazing to celebrate a guy like that. I wish we would do more than a day, more than a month. It’s definitely a great thing.”
“Our league is represented by all walks of life,” Malone said. “To celebrate and honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the right thing to do. Most of the guys on our team and in our league are African-American.”
“The great thing about Dr. King is he’s not just for black and white,” Malone added. “He’s for everybody. For my two girls. I think it’s great that the league is at the forefront … celebrating the legacy of Dr. King and what his message was.”
King fought racial inequality with nonviolent resistance. He helped organize the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, which close to 200,000 Americans participated in. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, a call for racial justice, at the march.
King was jailed multiple times and endured threats from the F.B.I., one of which was a letter meant to blackmail King with information about his extramarital affairs. King was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support striking African-American sanitation workers.
Chandler said that King’s ability to push for progress in the face of all that is one of the lessons he keeps in mind today.
“Basically, if you feel a way and you think it’s right, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks,” he said. “You should stand up for it. You should go all in for it whether people thinks it’s right or wrong. If you think it’s going to make you happy or a better person and it’s going to uplift people around you, you should definitely go for it.”
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