When the NBA postponed its season on March 11, it set off a domino effect of other sporting leagues and events doing the same.
The league is now trying to maintain that leadership position in leading the response from the sports industry through the coronavirus outbreak.
With several players diagnosed with COVID-19, the NBA has pulled together more than 20 public service announcements with various NBA and WNBA personalities to share messages of support and information with the league’s followers.
The videos have generated more than 46 million views across NBA platforms.
The NBA’s community efforts during the coronavirus outbreak are just an extension of its normal work, Todd Jacobson, NBA senior vice president of social responsibility, said.
“We always want to use our platform to engage and inspire,” Jacobson said. “Connectivity is important to who we are, and we’ll continue to use the platform globally to ensure people have the right information and shine the light on the community organizations doing the work.
“Sports give us that platform, and we’ll continue to use it,” he said.
Building on the initial PSAs, the league is launching the NBA Together campaign, meant to engage and educate fans as well as the general public, Jacobson said.
“NBA Together is our collective campaign to make sure our fans, young families, youth, and the general public have the right information to be healthy and safe,” Jacobson said. “When it came time to help, everyone within the league wants to help and figure out how to use their platforms to make sure everyone has the right information.”
The campaign acts as an umbrella for all the activities the league and teams are doing to support the global response to the coronavirus pandemic. From working with organizations like the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to raising money for those impacted by the virus and organizations at the front lines – NBA and WNBA players and teams have already contributed more than $35 million.
The NBA Together Platform consists of four pillars: know the facts, acts of caring, expand your community, and NBA Together Live.
The numerous PSAs help build the first pillar, informing viewers of appropriate social distancing efforts, easy ways to exercise, hand washing techniques, and ways to maintain mental health. Videos were from current stars like Chris Paul and Stephen Curry to Hall of Famers like Magic Johnson, Grant Hill, and Gary Payton.
The most recent video came from international players Danilo Gallinari, Rui Hachimura, and Ricky Rubio, sharing a message from the World Health Organization.
“We’re able to use the extensive reach to get the right, accurate information to millions of people,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson said the second pillar is meant to be a call of action to inspire a million acts of caring. Those acts could be supporting a local food bank, picking up extra food for a high-risk neighbor, or phone calls to loved ones.
“We want to make sure people are empathic and reflective during this,” he said.
The third pillar, expanding your community, is meant to show that even while practicing social distancing, communities can come together, engage and grow, Jacobson said. He mentioned working with partners like Kaiser Permanente and Headspace to encourage physical and mental health maintenance.
“We know that communities need to expand,” he said. “It’s sharing things people can do to be healthy with sports.”
The last portion of the campaign is NBA Together Live, which brings a player front and center for fans to interact with while pulling together the other three pillars.
Every weekday at 3 p.m. EST, members of the NBA will take part in live interviews. The first two were Cleveland Cavalier Kevin Love and Portland Trail Blazer Damian Lillard.
“We knew we wanted to be supportive during this time and find fun ways to do that,” Jacobson said. “For us, it wasn’t a question of when – it was how quickly can we get things done and get out there in any way we can.”