The NBA and Dallas Mavs continue to honor the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging in the national dialogue on race and equality and encouraging collective action in communities nationwide.

Throughout MLK weekend, all 30 NBA teams will honor Dr. King’s fight for justice and examine the history and impact of inequality in America.

Mavs forward Dwight Powell is appreciative of Dr. King, who touched a country from his distinguished ‘I Have A Dream’ speech to his many marches in search of equal rights.

“We’re forever indebted to him and the people around him and his family for the things that they did — all the people in the (Civil Rights) Movement at that time,” Powell said. “They gave up a lot and they risked everything for the next generations.

“They saw some change in their time, but not nearly as much as they deserved. So we’ve got to pay homage to him and pay homage to them for their sacrifice and the price they paid for us to have the life that we have now.”

There will be 12 NBA games in honor of MLK Day this year, including the Dallas Mavericks hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. (click here for the game preview). Dallas will look to keep its four-game home win streak intact when the Thunder come to town. The Mavs are 19-10 in Western Conference games.

In total, 24 of the 30 teams in the NBA will compete on Monday and honor one of the most iconic figures in the world when America observes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The day will focus on basketball, along with the legacy of Dr. King and his fight for equality and justice for all.


The Dallas Mavericks and OKC Thunder will wear custom Nike NBA MLK Day warm-up t-shirts this year, designed in collaboration with the NBPA, The King Center and Martin Luther King III.

The front of the t-shirt features words from MLK’s timeless “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, “NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE JUSTICE A REALITY FOR ALL,” while the back reads “HONOR KING” with the lettering adorned with Dr. King Jr.’s signature.

Both messages are printed in a font derived from the carrying signs used in Dr. King Jr.’s memorial march on April 8, 1968.

Since Dr. King’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1983, the NBA has continued its tradition of playing basketball on this date with a special focus on Atlanta and Memphis, the respective cities where King was born and tragically killed. The NBA remains dedicated to furthering Dr. King’s fight for equality and justice with league activations and community engagement.



WHAT DOES MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MEAN TO YOU: He was a great public figure for us growing up learning about him at school and all he gave for this world. He’s one of the people where, if I could have three people that I could sit at the table and have a conversation with, he’s definitely one of the guys I’d like to have a conversation with.

WHERE WOULD THIS COUNTRY BE WITHOUT THE SACRIFICES HE MADE: He put his life on the line. He was fearless. He didn’t do it with violence. He just wanted to peacefully change the world. Bless him and I’m just thankful for everything he did.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD BE HIS THOUGHTS IF HE WERE ALIVE TODAY: I think he would be happy for how much change has been since he was here. But there’s still a lot more that we can do.


WHAT DOES MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MEAN TO YOU: He might be one of the most influential figures in our history. His legacy obviously lives on and the dream that he had is still something that we’re fighting for every day. He made a lot of change in this country for the better, and I think we — all around the world — are forever indebted to him for what he did. If the change didn’t take place when it did and how it did, I don’t think the opportunities that a lot of us have been provided in this generation would be available to us, just because the climate would be different and things would be different.

WHERE WOULD THIS COUNTRY BE WITHOUT THE SACRIFICES HE MADE: He set a great example as far as what it means to serve and what it means to be selfless and give up some of what a lot of people think is their right in life. He gave up a lot just to have his voice heard and he made a lot of sacrifices – him and his family. He took a lot of risks to make this world a better place. I think we can take that as an example of how to live life, which is to serve others and to be an example for the next generation and influence change where it’s needed, regardless of the price.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD BE HIS THOUGHTS IF HE WERE ALIVE TODAY: I think he would be definitely happy in comparison to where (this country has) been, but he would still probably be fighting for continued progress and continued change. I think he would still be a major voice for the people and try to improve situations for minorities and for majorities and for everyone, really. I think he would be still fighting for progress.


Born out of a need to create sustainable, lasting change, in June 2020, the Dallas Mavericks launched Mavs Take ACTION!, a plan to address racial inequalities, promote social justice and drive change within Dallas/Fort Worth.

Standing strong in the belief that every voice matters and everybody belongs, Mavs Take ACTION! focuses on six systems inclusive of Public Policy, Education, Criminal Justice, Employment, Child Welfare and Healthcare, with initiatives across six key pillars of Advocacy, Communication, Training, Investment, Outreach and Noise, or ACTION!

Below are some of the ways the Dallas Mavericks will honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dedication to helping others in the community.

Dallas Dinner Table (January 17, 2022): The Dallas Dinner Table concept was created by the Leadership Dallas Alumni Board of the Dallas Regional Chamber in 1999. The Dallas Dinner Table annual event provides an opportunity to hear and share diverse perspectives about the impact of race on the daily lives of DFW residents. While the annual event has been offered in the homes of gracious hosts across the metroplex for many years, due to COVID-19, guests can participate in the 2022 virtual event from their homes. Dallas Dinner Table offers private dinner table events throughout the year.

2022 MLK Celebration Week: In January 2022, the City of Dallas will host its 40th annual celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a weeks’ worth of events highlighting issues of equity, diversity, and opportunity. The week will include a Day of Prayer, a Day of Service, a Wreath Laying Ceremony, Job Fair, Equity Symposium, Youth Summit, and Scholarship & Awards Gala. Celebration week will culminate with the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Virtual Parade.

Roland Parrish Battle of the Bands 2022 Invitational & College Expo (Jan. 16, 2022): The Dallas Mavericks sponsor the first ever battle of the band event in Dallas on Jan. 16. High school students will be able to come and compete for scholarship funding in front of a variety of HBCU band directors. Before the show, students will also have the opportunity to engage with over 50 colleges and universities for more information on collegiate opportunities and career paths.


The Dallas Mavericks will open the Black History Month Art Contest on Jan. 17 through Feb. 21. To honor Black History and inspire future change makers, the Mavs are encouraging students in 8th-12th grades to create and submit a visual medium that interprets the beliefs of past and present Black leaders and how they inspired others to unite and join hands for justice.

You can find all of the information about the contest HERE.


The speech topic for the 30th annual Dallas ISD MLK Jr. Oratory Competition posed this question to students: “How would Dr. King assess our progress in achieving his vision for America?”

Thousands of fourth and fifth graders in classrooms across the community pondered this question during the last couple months and a select few brave souls stepped to the stage Friday morning, Jan. 14, to deliver their answers.

Tristan Whitfield, a fifth-grader at Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center, won the Dallas competition, and Ronnie Williams, a fourth-grader from James H. Law Elementary, was named the winner in Houston.

The Dallas Mavs have long supported the event and Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall returned as a judge for the third time. Local broadcasting legend, Clarice Tinsley, served as the master of ceremonies.

The annual MLK Oratory Competition was designed by Foley & Lardner to recognize and encourage the writing and oratory skills of elementary students. In addition, it serves as a celebration of cultural diversity and opportunity to spotlight talented Dallas ISD students as they learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Some of the brightest and smallest stars in our community didn’t seem fazed by the celebrity judges that joined the event virtually on giant screens behind them.

The youths’ answers were, quite simply, profound and inspiring.

Tristan Whitfield, the first-place winner in Dallas, cited the end of segregation and the availability of jobs, property and education for all as progress that would make Dr. King proud, while the election of our first Black president would have exceeded his expectations. He noted that Dr. King believed that people should want to see the betterment of mankind and that he would be looking for continued progress.

“Dr. King envisioned a world of love, not hate,” said Whitfield. “We must continue to search our own hearts, drive out hate and remember why his dream was even necessary. We must live by Dr. King’s quote, ‘I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.'”

Jaliaha Rodgers, a fifth-grader at JP Starks Math, Science, and Technology Vanguard, placed second in the Dallas competition, while Arianna Garcia, a fifth-grader at L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School, took home third place.

The oratory competition is held each year in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day to encourage people to remember and pay tribute to the late civil rights leader’s legacy. Foley established the event to encourage students to learn more about Dr. King and to help cultivate the writing and speaking skills of elementary school students.

The competition was created in Dallas in 1993. The event’s success led to the establishment of the Houston competition in 1997 and the Chicago competition in 2020. Both the preliminary and final rounds of the Chicago competition will take place virtually in February this year.

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

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