Over the weekend, NBA players had a conference call discussing how they should all proceed with the NBA’s plan to restart the season on July 30th. Some players like Donovan Mitchell voiced their concern about Coronavirus while NBPA Vice President Kyrie Irving declared that they can’t go back to playing because of racism.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 13, 2020
This country is in the midst of an important moment where racism is being addressed directly. Confederate flags are banned from NASCAR events. Statues of slave owners are being thrown into rivers. Protesters are marching in the streets. All while cops continue to use excessive force and murder black people in the streets.
It seems gross to rush the NBA back with so much going on in the world. Basketball is unimportant in the context of Coronavirus numbers continuing to spike and cops continuing to murder us with zero consequences.
So Kyrie isn’t wrong when he voices his concerns here. All of the daily sports shows on ESPN and Fox Sports are about these Black Lives Matters protests and race in sports. All of our timelines and feeds are full of petitions and charity funds and footage of police brutality and just vital information that is influencing positive change.
The second the NBA returns, all of that is muted and hidden behind clips of James Harden step back 3’s and thoughtless debates about whether LeBron or Giannis deserves the MVP award.
If you’re out here protesting then you’re out here protesting. I don’t think anyone is rushing home to catch an Orlando Magic game. But all of your work is going to be ignored once all of the footage and information gets suppressed by Bleacher Report social media interns waterboarding you with Zion content.
But to assume that the return of the NBA would make people forget about racism is a bit misguided. All of the activism in the streets is more directly related to the unemployment numbers and people’s overall dissatisfaction with the entire system at large. It’s why there are so many white people out in the street supporting black lives matters. They are jobless and pissed that the American government provides no financial safety nets.
An 8pm Dallas Mavericks game isn’t going to suddenly end this movement. It’s not putting money in American citizen’s pockets and it’s not stopping the police from being unhinged serial killers.
The NBA is a league consisting of mostly black athletes so I can understand Kyrie feeling as if by returning to the court, they are all tapdancing for the white man who either doesn’t care about police brutality, doesn’t believe it’s real or *whispers* enjoys it.
But let’s make it very clear that I do not give a shit what Kyrie Irving thinks about anything. Whether we 1000% agree of race relations or not, I don’t want this flat-earther believing that his voice is so important that playing basketball would mute all the hard work he’s doing.
We reallyyy have to stop looking at celebrities for our social cues. A man was murdered in a Wendy’s parking lot in Atlanta over the weekend because he fell asleep in the drive-thru. Stay in the streets. Keep mobilizing. This isn’t over because the Kawhi and Paul George finally figured out their on-court chemistry. Nah.
If Kyrie wants to ‘give up everything’ for this cause then he should uh, do that. Not sure why he should prevent Joel Embiid from playing simply because he believes he should be doing more. Maya Moore was the best player in the WNBA and legitimately gave everything up to work directly to reshape the justice system.
Obviously not everyone has the courage of Maya Moore and not everyone feels comfortable on the front lines of a protest but if the NBA truly cares about social injustice and systematic racism then they better come back with something more powerful than ‘I Can’t Breathe’ t-shirts. Fuck kneeling during the National Anthem. We’re past all that performative bullshit. Start calling police departments and officers out by name. Start calling out local district attorneys that aren’t seriously prosecuting these cops.
Do the actual work. You guys have millions of dollars and millions of followers. Do the work behind the scenes and use your influence. Not playing basketball isn’t going to fix this broken system. I promise cops are going to keep murdering black people regardless of how many points Jimmy Butler scores.