An assistant to Pope Francis reached out to the NBA Players Association last week. The Pope wanted to talk to some NBA players about how they’re using their platform to discuss social justice issues. Even though training camp starts a week from Tuesday, five players and some union staff made the trip to Vatican City to talk about social justice with the Pope.
The Turf obtained a transcript of the meeting, reproduced below:
MICHELE ROBERTS (NBAPA president): Holy Father, thank you so much for having us here at the Vatican. I know I speak for the entire NBA Family when I say that we are truly honored and humbled to be here.
POPE FRANCIS: Well, thank you so much for being here. You are champions… But also giving the example of teamwork, you’ve become a model, giving that good example of teamwork but always remaining humble… and preserving your own humanity.
(nodding and murmuring of agreement)
ANTHONY TOLLIVER: Holy Father, we’ve prepared some brief remarks about our experience standing up for social justice during the NBA Playoffs this past year –
POPE: Your experience standing up during the playoffs, you said?
TOLLIVER: Erm… yes, your holiness.
POPE: It’s Tolliver, right? From the Grizzlies?
TOLLIVER: Yes, Holy Father. That’s correct.
POPE: So, um, which playoffs are you talking about, my guy? As I seem to recall, your Grizzlies sorta petered out in the Bubble. I mean, you had what a two and a half, three-game lead when the season re-convened, right?
TOLLIVER: Um, yeah that sounds right.
POPE: Well, what happened? I mean, did Ja just lose steam down there or what? I was really pulling for you guys; thought you could’ve given the Lakers a good series.
TOLLIVER: Uh… well. Sorry to disappoint, I guess. Well, here: we got you this ball as a token of our appreciation.
POPE: How nice of you. Wait – is this made of gold?
ROBERTS: Gold-plated, yes.
POPE: Oh… was kind of hoping you’d bring like an actual game-ball. They’re harder to get your hands on than you’d think. We had a nice half court set up in the papal residence. I find that shooting baskets is a nice way to clear my mind after a long day of pope business. But this is nice, too!
STERLING BROWN: Holy Father, we also prepared this book, highlighting some of the social justice work our league has been doing.
POPE: That’s very nice, thanks, I’ll definitely take a look. You know, you’re not the only ones with presentations prepared today. I trust you met the Swiss Guard outside, yes?
KYLE KORVER: Yes, we did.
POPE: Well, I was thinking… you know how the league loves to roll out these City Edition jerseys every year? Well maybe someone could make one inspired by Swiss Guard unifrorms. You know? Vatican edition. Here I mocked one up last night…
POPE: I figure they got a lot of Catholics in Boston, so it seemed like a good fit. What do you think?
BROWN: Uhh.. well the belt might be kind of tough… but I dunno, it’s kinda cool?
POPE: Dope, dope. Thanks.
MARCO BELINELLI: Che scherzo! Il papa piace l’NBA!
POPE: No, Marco. Io amo l’NBA.
JONATHAN ISAAC: Alright Holy Father, one last gift before we leave. As a token of our appreciation, I just wanted to give you this custom Orlando Magic jersey.
POPE: …you got me a what now?
ISAAC: Um, the Orlando Magic? It’s the team I play for. We’re located in Orlando, in Florida… it’s where Disney World is?
POPE: No, of course. I just…of all teams. You really brought an Orlando Magic jersey? You guys are kinda trash, no offense.
As the Pope retreated to his papal residence, he was overheard muttering, “I mean I am the Pope, right? You can’t get me like a vintage MJ jersey or something cool?“
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