Michael Jordan, now chairman of the Charlotte Hornets, is among the inaugural members of the NBA Foundation’s Board of Directors, the league and NBA Players’ Association announced on Oct. 9.
In August, the NBA board of governors committed $300 million in initial funding for the new foundation to drive “economic empowerment” for Black communities through employment and career advancement. Team owners will collectively contribute $30 million annually across the next decade.
The foundation will focus its efforts on three critical points in employment — getting a first job, getting a job after high school or college, and career advancement once employed — by assisting national and local organizations that provide skills training, mentorship, coaching and pipeline development in NBA markets.
The other members of the board include Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, New Orleans Pelicans governor Gayle Benson, Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris, Atlanta Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler, NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and NBA Board of Governors Chairman and Toronto Raptors Governor Larry Tanenbaum.
Roberts and Tanenbaum will serve as ex-officio board members. Additional members of the league office will serve as NBA Foundation officers to manage day-to-day operations. Deputy Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum will serve as president, President of Social Responsibility and Player Programs Kathy Behrens will serve as vice president, Senior Associate Counsel Matthew Carpenter-Dennis will be secretary, and Global Head of League Finance Heidi Nadler will be treasurer.
A search for the foundation’s executive director is underway, the announcement said.
The original announcement of the foundation came at a time when the league was grappling with how to effectively demonstrate its commitment to social justice amid its restarted 2020 season.
Ahead of the season, the NBA landed on displaying “Black Lives Matter” on its courts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and allowed players to wear an NBA-approved phrase on their jerseys in lieu of their last names. That option didn’t resonate with some players, however — including LeBron James, who has a number of his own off-court initiatives — and other players chose to donate money to the cause themselves.
Barnes was among those players and announced that he would donate $200,000 to different nonprofits created by the families of victims of police brutality and gun violence. He was named one of five recipients of the 2019-20 NBA Cares Community Assist Award, which entailed a $10,000 donation from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente to the African American Policy Forum, Barnes’ charity of choice.
Players’ frustrations with the league came to a head during the first round of playoffs, when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, eventually leading to a new agreement between the NBA and NBPA to form a social justice coalition and work to use team facilities as voting locations.