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Sacramento Kings Harrison Barnes speaks on coronavirus, social justice, and his new function at First Nationwide Financial institution

Harrison Barnes # 40 of the Sacramento Kings drives to the basket during the game against the New Orleans Pelicans on August 6, 2020 at the HP Field House of the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.

Joe Murphy | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Harrison Barnes, the National Basketball Association forward, plans to improve his banking skills as his season is over and some time to think about before starting a new campaign.

Barnes, who plays for the Sacramento Kings, became a shareholder and was appointed to the Board of Directors of First National Bank in Iowa in August. In an interview with CNBC, Barnes said he would like to use his new position to learn about the industry, help small businesses that depend on community banks, and raise financial awareness.

"I and my family have been banking there for two decades," said Barnes, who grew up in Ames, Iowa. He added that banking is "very conservative" with confident management teams, "but it is also the ability for me to develop financial literacy among young people."

After performing eight games in the NBA's Disney bubble in Orlando, Barnes averaged 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in the competitions, but the Kings failed to make the postseason.

Now that Barnes won't be able to play basketball until at least the end of December, he reflected on the last six months of testing positive for Covid-19, contributing to social justice initiatives, and witnessing how racial barriers continue to plague the nation .

Push forward

The death of George Floyd on May 25 by police officers in Minneapolis sparked mass protests against racism around the world and raised awareness of the inequality of treatment for blacks by the health, economic and law enforcement systems.

The protests have drawn attention to cases that would otherwise have been overlooked, such as the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks by police in Louisville and Atlanta.

For their part, Barnes and his wife Brittany were busy helping victims of police brutality ahead of the recent wave of social unrest. In October 2019, the couple paid for the funeral of Atatiana Jefferson, who was shot and killed by a Fort Worth police officer.

In a campaign "To Carry On The Legacy Of Atatiana Jefferson," Barnes donated a total of $ 200,000 to organizations supporting victims of police brutality, or $ 25,000 for every game the Kings played in the NBA Disney bubble. He said social justice movements need to "move forward".

"From a bigger perspective, we just can't stop," said Barnes. "We can't stop making our voices heard, we can't stop calling for change and we need to keep pushing forward to break down those barriers," said Barnes.

The former protégé of the University of North Carolina has not forgotten the fight against the pandemic.

In April, Barnes donated $ 40,000 to "fund weekly groceries for vulnerable families and seniors" who have been affected by Covid-19. But his financial support didn't make him immune to Covid-19.

In July, Barnes tested positive for coronavirus and watched his wife suffer from "full blown symptoms". Barnes said his empathy was compromised throughout the experience.

"I've matured because I understood from an intellectual point of view how serious Covid-19 is and the impact it has had on our society," said Barnes.

"Covid-19 is still there," he added. "It's still active and serious, so people need to be careful and take preventive measures. But in general, I think we can be more empathetic in society."

Robert Covington # 33 of the Houston Rockets drives in the first half for Harrison Barnes # 40 of the Sacramento Kings during the first half at HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 9, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Ashley Landis | Pool | Getty Images

Help for the elixir of life

Small businesses have taken a massive blow from the pandemic and black entrepreneurs have suffered the most.

Forty-one percent of the 1.1 million black-owned businesses on Main Street closed between February and April as the coronavirus pandemic hit the country. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, that's twice the default rate of non-minority companies.

Barnes said that most local businesses require funding from community banks, calling the institutions the "lifeblood" for smaller businesses. Barnes said he would "learn the key characteristics of a successful bank from within" and would like to build more banking relationships to support and start new businesses.

He said he would use First National Bank as "another platform to give back because it's important to my wife and me".

After he was removed from the bladder, Barnes was asked for his thoughts on the remaining teams. He picked the Los Angeles Lakers to win the Western Conference.

"I like the way Miami played," Barnes said of the opposing conference. "I think they're from the east."

On the Kings front, team owner Vivek Ranadive hired a new general manager on Thursday after the team split from former GM Vlade Divac in August. Barnes said he was hoping for renewed "vision" for the Kings after Divac put up a playoff list.

His agent Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports Management negotiated a four-year extension of $ 85 million with the Kings last July. The deal includes Barnes on a contract with the team until 2023.

"Vlade has done a great job raising talent, but part of the business is being judged on gains and losses," said Barnes. "He couldn't get this vision through. If they [new front office] have a vision for us, we'll win."

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