Today the NBA announced a landmark agreement with the LDS Church to ensure that Jabari Parker’s desire to serve a mission does not interfere with his draft prospects, saying the church has agreed to their proposal to call Parker to serve as a missionary in the city of the NBA team that drafts him. While the official statement is brief, sources close to the negotiations report that because the NBA considers Parker to be a certain star, league officials, including new commissioner Adam Silver, went to unprecedented lengths to ensure that Parker enters this year’s draft.
Apparently Jabari will have to live in a missionary apartment and keep a normal missionary schedule. They weren’t clear if road games will be like transfers to a new mission or if he will have to go on exchanges with another missionary during that time.
The deal stipulates that Elder Parker will proselyte and live with missionary companions, like other volunteer Mormon missionares, except that, since Elder Parker will be an NBA player, he and his companion will attend all of the team’s practices and games. The NBA has even given permission for Elder Parker’s companion to sit on the team bench during games in missionary attire to comply with mission rules, and has guaranteed that the companion will be shown at least twice during every televised game. The league made many concessions to secure the church’s cooperation, including donating a box suite for the local mission to use for entertaining investigators.
In effort to bind the will of the lord
Keith Harris, president of the church’s Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission, told ESPN’s Ric Bucher that he’s asked his missionaries to fast this Sunday to ensure Parker becomes a Milwaukee Buck. “Ever since the Bucks started setting NBA loss records I had a feeling their abysmal season was all part of a higher purpose, so with this announcement I’m not about to sit back and watch the missions in Orlando or Philadelphia win Parker because we’re not worthy.”
Read the full story on the Times and Seasons blog.