BY CHRIS GOMES
It goes without saying that racial inequality has been a prevalent problem within the United States and abroad for a while now. Countless Black Americans have lost their lives to police brutality from law enforcement. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and recently James Blake have been victims of police violence. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue; this is a human issue. Lives shouldn’t be taken away from families.
Protesters in the city and all around the country have continued demonstrations against police violence and racial discrimination in light of recent incidents.
The Milwaukee Bucks sat out Game 5 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs against the Orlando Magic to protest against police brutality and violence within the nation. It comes after the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the state the Bucks are originally from. Blake remains in the hospital and his father says that he is paralyzed from the waist down. While some may try to downplay the actions by the Bucks, it brought great awareness to the public of how pressing this issue is in our society.
The NBA was well within their right to protest in order to spark greater change, not just performative activism.
Following the boycott from the Bucks and Magic, a series of NBA games were also boycotted, with the NBA postponing all games on August 26. The NBA was well within their right to protest in order to spark greater change, not just performative activism.
Within hours, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), and National Hockey League (NHL) followed in solidarity by also postponing their games to pay tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement and the cases of police brutality in the country.
The call for Justice for Jacob Blake and other Black Americans who have been affected by police brutality, along with an urge for change in the justice system, was a key focus in the boycotts.
Although some may say that the NBA boycott doesn’t accomplish anything, it does have a major effect. It brings awareness to the issue to some who may not see it as such. Not only that, but it also allows for the players to voice their concerns to team owners, who have the power to help institute change.
NBA ownership usually belongs to the wealthy and powerful, and those who have connections to resources and government leaders that can do something when asked upon. However, nothing is easy in this endeavour, with certain owners not even putting support for the “Black Lives Matter” design written on the court in the NBA bubble.
Valuable meetings followed, with the idea of canceling the NBA bubble and season becoming a very possible outcome. The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, who hold arguably the NBA’s best talents with players LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, voted to cancel the season at a players’ meeting on the NBA campus. This was mainly to put pressure on owners to use their wealth and political influence to ensure social change. These votes were not final, but rather an instance of action in support of social justice.
Of course, the NBA season did eventually continue and the threat of suspension once again was avoided. Although, meaningful change was set and a precedent of social justice was established. The idea that NBA players are just going to “shut up and dribble,” as some political analysts may want them to do, was once again proven wrong.
Just because they’re in the bubble of the sports industry, doesn’t mean players are detached from the realities of America in its current moment. Players are set to the same ideals as the rest of society; they can do both speaking for social justice and playing the game at the same time.
Photo courtesy of CBS Sports