CHICAGO — The Bulls' Joakim Noah is one of several NBA stars, plus victims of street violence, who will appear in anti-gun ads starting Christmas Day.
The unique campaign, reportedly the brainchild of film director Spike Lee, also includes family members of a man killed in a shooting after a basketball game at Chicago State in 2013.
In a statement, Noah said: "I'll never forget playing basketball in a park with some kids, and a young woman approached me in tears, and told me that her brother had been shot and killed on that same court a year earlier. Ultimately it’s about saving lives. There’s just no room for gun violence.”
USA Today said the announcements state that in the United States, 88 people die of gun violence every day.
In its account of the project, the New York Times notes the commercials do not mention gun control. But the ads are being paid for by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a counterpart to the National Rifle Association. The League donated the time for highly-watched Christmas games.
Noah has been involved in anti-gun violence efforts in the past, raising funds for his foundation Noah's Arc through the sale of pendants.
In the 2013 Chicago State incident, Tyrone Lawson, 17, was killed after a melee involving two top-ranked basketball teams. The Morgan Park High School senior was an honor student wh aimed to join the Navy.
The idea came from Lee, who write and directed the recent Chi-Raq film spotlighting gun violence in Chicago, the Times reported.
President Barack Obama tweeted out his support.
I'm proud of the @NBA for taking a stand against gun violence. Sympathy for victims isn't enough – change requires all of us speaking up.— President Obama (@POTUS) December 23, 2015