In the early part of 2020 we found ourselves staring down a global pandemic, and because of this, government, authorities, and citizens acted. I’m not saying it was perfect, and yes some countries have done it better than others, but, there was action.
Then George Floyd was murdered, and in my opinion the government and authorities acted in a way that wasn’t surprising, and it was left to citizens to do the right thing. Here we are just a few weeks later, and there has been another assault against another unarmed black man.
It’s amazing that during these times of unrest, pain, and uncertainty, we turn to what we know the best, and for a lot of us, we turned to athletes. I’m not sure what we wanted from them, I’m not sure if we were expecting outrage, a call for peace, or maybe we were looking for that overall distraction, let’s just watch some basketball and forget that bad things are happening to innocent people simply because of the color of their skin.
What happened last night was exactly what needed to happen. It started with the Milwaukee Bucks refusing to take the court, and then every other team following suit. NBA stars or any athlete in any sport are entertainers. They are there for us to watch grown men, play a game, that we all played as kids. Last night we didn’t need to watch basketball, we needed to reflect on the Jacob Blake shooting, we needed to reflect on George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we needed to reflect on the social injustice that people of color live with on an everyday basis.
In the past, basketball player weres directed to “shut up and dribble”, I wonder if Laura Ingraham ever wondered what would happen if the players simply said no, stopped dribbling, and continued to shine the light on racism, police brutality, and the poor treatment of people of color. As far as I’m concerned, a group of grown men who left their families and sacrificed those moments so they could enter a bubble and entertain us, have taken the appropriate response to all of this. I don’t care how much money they make, and neither should you. What we should care about is the discussion this has sparked. We are entering a critical time as a society where we need to start learning and growing.
I’ve said this more times than I care to remember, but systemic racism (and yes Ben Shapiro, systemic racism does exist), exists all over the world, the NBA is also a global brand, so the boycott of the playoffs will not just reach a small portion of one country, there are people everywhere right now, feeling the loss of the games, and reacting to the message that comes with these lost games. For the people screaming about rioters and looters, and saying that they only agree with peaceful protests, it doesn’t get any more peaceful than this, and yet the reaction from those same people has been rage.
It’s ironic that there was a #BoycottNBA trending on Twitter when players took a knee for the national anthem, and wore Black Lives Matters shirts, and yet when the NBA players turn around and boycott you, it’s met with rage.
These boycotts are not just sending a message to society, it’s sending a direct message to owners and executives: Use your power and influence to do good for society. Support campaigns that will change the politics where it matters. Acknowledge that lives, regardless of the color of somebody's skin, should never be political, and understand that Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean all lives don’t matter.
Am I disappointed that the season may be over? Of course I am, I just watched my hometown Toronto Raptors sweep the first round, and now they’re taking on the Boston Celtics. 90% of my viewers and readers are Celtics fans, I was looking forward to the smack talk that was going to come out of that. But, I am proud of all the players including the ones representing Toronto, because at the end of the day, everything that is going on around us is so much bigger than a basketball game.
I’m expecting a mix reaction to this article, I expect backlash and support, I do want to thank my bosses at Tecmo Hole and SportsCastr who give me this platform to express my ideas and not muzzle my opinions, I hope that other media outlets and businesses follow the same example, the freedom to speak about injustice publicly is important, and I hope that other follow SportsCastr’s lead and allow their team members to speak up and do the right thing, regardless of the blowback.
I have struggled to close this article, usually I like to finish off my articles with something bright and uplifting, but on this occasion I don’t have the strength to find it, and it also seems wildly inappropriate, so I’ll leave you with this: Basketball is fun, but Black Lives Matter.