LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (CBS4/AP) — Several Nuggets players wore jerseys with social justice messages on the back, including Black Lives Matter, Equality, Stand Up, Respect Us, and Freedom.
On their way to the game, several Nuggets wore “Justice for Elijah McClain” shirts, and during pregame the group wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts. And as expected, every member of the Nuggets on knelt during the national anthem.
“It’s not just about a return to play. It’s also about making sure we keep the conversation on racism, police brutality and all of those other things. This is an example of us taking it upon ourselves to keep playing on the conversation in our backyard. It’s as simple as it gets,” said Nuggets head coach, Michael Malone.
Elijah McClain died in August of 2019 after an encounter with Aurora police and paramedics.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 22 points to help the Miami Heat beat the Denver Nuggets 125-105 on Saturday in the first restart game for both teams.
Kelly Olynyk scored all 20 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Heat, who shot 56% from the field.
Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant each scored 19 points for Denver. The Nuggets played without guards Jamal Murray (hamstring), Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip). Murray ranks second on the team with 18.8 points per game.
Heat center Meyers Leonard stood during the national anthem, saying it was out of respect forr the U.S. military, while all the coaches and players around him kneeled. His brother, Bailey Leonard, served two tours in Afghanistan with the Marines. Leonard wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt over a jersey that said “Equality.”
Denver led 57-56 at halftime, but Miami outscored the Nuggets 38-22 in the third quarter to lead 94-79 heading into the fourth.
Butler scored and was fouled on a layup with just under 10 minutes remaining, and his free throw put the Heat up by 20.
Heat: Butler unsuccessfully lobbied the NBA for permission to wear no name or social justice message on his jersey. He stepped onto the court in a jersey with only the No. 22 on the back but had to change into one with his last name on it before the game could start. The NBA and NBPA worked to allow social messaging but never discussed blank jerseys. … F Jae Crowder made his second start of the season.
Nuggets: C Bol Bol, who had some excellent moments in Denver’s scrimmages at Disney, made his official NBA debut. He finished with five points and five rebounds in 11 minutes. He will be eligible for rookie of the year next season. … The 1 p.m. Eastern start time — 11 a.m. in Denver — was the Nuggets’ second earliest of the season. They had a 12:30 p.m. start at Detroit on Feb. 2, which was Super Bowl Sunday.
Heat: Play the Toronto Raptors on Monday.
Nuggets: Play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)