Johnny Cash played a series of prison concerts over the course of his iconic music career because he believed in redemption and reform for incarcerated citizens.
Members of the Sacramento Kings and Milwaukee Bucks are starting a program that sounds a lot like the basketball equivalent of “Folsom Prison Blues.”
The Kings announced on Thursday that members of both teams will participate in basketball games in local prisons as part of the “Represent Justice” campaign which seeks “to break down stigmas associated with individuals — disproportionately people of color and the poor — who are impacted by the criminal justice system.”
Luke Walton to reportedly lace up for prison game
According to The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears, the Kings are tipping off the program Thursday night on an outdoor court at an unidentified Northern California prison as part of the Play for Justice initiative.
Active Kings players won’t actually be playing basketball.
But head coach Luke Walton is expected to play, while forward Trevor Ariza and player development coach Rico Hines will participate in organized discussions with prisoners. Then they’ll act as honorary captains and coaches for games played by participants in the roundtable discussion in front of an expected crowd of around 500 prison residents, according to Spears.
Bucks to host Wisconsin game
The Bucks plan to host a similar event later in December, except it will take place on an indoor court, according Spears. It is winter in Wisconsin after all. Guards Sterling Brown and George Hill are expected to participate, according to Spears.
Then the two teams will jointly host an event in Milwaukee of Feb. 10.
More events involving other NBA and WNBA teams are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
“There is immense potential to connect people with different life experiences and backgrounds through the collaboration of sport,” Scott Budnick, founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition said via the Kings statement. “Play for Justice is one hopeful step in the process of restoring dignity and mercy to the people in our criminal justice system.”
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