The Philadelphia 76ers organization continues to support rapper Meek Mill, a native of the city, who remains in prison after a heavy-handed sentence of 2-4 years for probation violation.
First, 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin wrote a letter to Judge Genece E. Brinkley in an effort to keep Meek Mill out of jail. While that preemptive attempt was thwarted, the team continues to stand with Meek Mill. Now, stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid posed in the D'Usse VIP Lounge with shirts in support of Meek Mill at Jay-Z's 4:44 concert stop in Philadelphia.
This isn't the first time Simmons and Embiid have connected themselves to Meek Mill's case. When caught by TMZ cameras in Los Angeles, Simmons asked for justice for Meek Mill and Embiid reportedly visited the rapper in prison. Meek Mill is a staple in Philadelphia who often attended 76ers games and forged relationships with several players and was spotted out with Embiid on multiple occasions.
But his relationship with Rubin was particularly strong. He detailed this in the letter, stating that Meek Mill met his family and often sought his counsel.
“We’re showing support for Meek Mill tonight with these hoodies because he’s a huge part of the Philadelphia community and we want to show him the city is eagerly awaiting his release," Rubin said in a statement. "It’s really disappointing that the judge has refused to rule on Meek’s bail request because everyone knows he’s not a threat to the community. However, Meek will come out of this situation stronger than ever and will be in a unique position to inspire young men and women on overcoming adversity.”
For anyone following the NBA closely, it shouldn't be a surprise to see NBA players speak out on social issues. In recent years, players have banded together to wear "I Can't Breathe" shirts for Eric Garner, sport hoodies for Trayvon Martin and lock arms during the national anthem for a show of solidarity.
In fact, Jay-Z himself recently discussed the freedom with which NBA players speak on subjects away from the basketball court. He said the league is "much further along" in political activism than the NFL, where Colin Kaepernick, a recent recipient of SI's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, sparked several protests when he took a knee to combat police brutality as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016.