It has been two years since conservative Fox News host, Laura Ingraham, told star NBA players, Lebron James and Kevin Durant, to “Shut up and dribble” after they spoke out about police brutality in America.
Many are coining the historical NBA strike last week “The Great NBA Awakening,” but why? As the sport with the highest percent of Black players (74%), it is no surprise that NBA players would be the ones to lead a sport-wide strike.
What is the difference between what Colin Kaepernick did and what the NBA players did this week? Both were peaceful.
Both have clearly been vocal in the past in regard to systemic racism and police violence towards Black people.
Both were heard, but only one was truly listened to. The difference is money.
Top NBA athletes threw their name and weight behind the strike. For some time now Black athletes have been seen as commodities.
How can white team owners and managers profit off their Blackness while never wanting to celebrate or protect it?
Sure, a millionaire Black NBA player has the financial leg up on a middle to lower class Black man, but what happens when the NBA player gets pulled over by the police and he isn’t recognized as such?
He will be treated like any other Black man pulled over for a DWB (Driving While Black).
When the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play after the egregiously violent arrest of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
They caused a ripple effect that would go down as a historical moment in NBA and American history.
Other NBA teams shortly followed their lead and it caused a multi-sport strike. WNBA players also followed suit and supported the issue by canceling their scheduled games that night. Both MLB and MLS had teams that also took part in the sports strike last week as well.
Two days after the initial strike on behalf of the Bucks and other NBA players, over 100 other NBA employees walked out in support of the teams striking.
When you call it a boycott or a protest, you minimize the importance of NBA players as a workforce.
It reiterates the belief that these players owe the white masses entertainment and that their work is not their own.
A boycott, for instance, would be if fans decided not to buy any NBA merchandise or tickets because they disagree with something the organization has said or done.
Although what the athletes have done does fall under the umbrella of protesting, it should be recognized as a work-strike primarily. So what did this all accomplish?
The teams came to an agreement just 48 hours after refusing to take the court. The NBA promised to assist with creating more voting and ballot location sites.
They even went as far as agreeing to turn many of their own arenas into polling locations for the upcoming election.
This outcome was a brilliant catch-all solution.
It is ridiculous to believe a deeply corrupt and racist pillar of our society could be entirely re-written overnight.
Although we are nowhere near close to the America we want to see, this event has exemplified the leverage that these teams have.
Increasing access to voting is the next best thing and will undoubtedly increase voter representation.
Even though not everything was solved by the NBA strike, it was a major step in the right direction towards ending police brutality and bringing awareness to systemic racism in America.
Maybe next time, people will think twice before telling these players to “shut up and dribble.”