NBA players have led the path of an unprecedented move, by boycotting all regularly scheduled playoff games, amidst the shooting of African-American Jacob Blake by Kenosha police officers. The boycott illustrates the power of the people and re-examines police conduct towards African-Americans.
via CBS Sports
The wave of boycotts and the notion for 26th August was set by the Milwaukee Bucks, the home team for the state where the shooting took place. The shooting of an unarmed Jacob Blake is just a series of uninitiated aggression towards African Americans, with George Floyd notably being the face of the black struggle against racism and police brutality. The NBA unlike many of its competitors, has been a vocal proponent of the black community and has often supported its athletes to fight against social causes they deem fit.
In 2014, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, denounced the then LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments against black people, banning the billionaire owner from the NBA for life. Recently, the NBA has stood tall for its values and principals, amongst the China-Hong Kong kerfuffle. The NBA supported Houston GM Daryl Morey, for his personal sentiment of “Free Hong Kong”. The fallout was severe, as China temporarily stopped broadcasting NBA games, in due process losing billions from its top viewing market.
However, the boycott is unprecedented because of the sheer quickness and determination it was conducted with. Most incidents of such magnitude in history have taken deliberation and discussion, yet this move was unanimously supported by all the players. The lure for the NBA players is immense, as large parts of their salary and bonuses are earned through the playoffs, yet this move illustrated how the players are people first and athletes later.
However, the move has costed the NBA a hefty amount, as TV ratings have dropped along with the opportunity cost for the TV revenue being lost. Yet, the boycott indicates the precipitous for actual change, not virtue signalling. The players have realised the power they withhold. Athletes are some of the most influential people we have in our society, superheroes to kids and extraordinary to the communities they represent. The players have the leverage, and its fair of them to leverage their billionaire owners to push legislative changes for disadvantaged communities.
The shooting and the unadulterated police aggression is processional rather than shocking. Doc Rivers, an African- American head coach of the LA Clippers stated “We love this country, but they don’t seem to love us back”. More sporting personalities also gave their 2 cents on the boycott. Bill Russell, unarguably the most successful basketball player (with 10 championships) exclaimed his admiration of this move, urging players to “get in good trouble”.
The police aggression and its bitter roots of racism, have taken front row seats for 2020 and the boycott illustrates how culturally moving the NBA is. It immerses itself into the fabric of American Society and Issues, all in thanks to the solidarity of its players.