The start of the 2017-18 NBA season is near. There will be scores of articles previewing teams by win-loss record, roster additions and subtractions and protected win total. There is also a feeling surrounding this season that we’re headed towards the inevitability of a Golden State Warriors championship. Thus, some of the fun is met with a bit of gloom. Cheer up, lover of hoops. Basketball is a sport in which the journey of the season is just as important as its destination in the Finals. Here at TSFJ, we’re going to highlight some things and people the basketball realm can be excited for between now and June.
Sports, contrary to a popular misguided idea, have always been permeated by society, religion and politics. Yes, we use sports as an escape from personal, domestic and worldwide tragedy. However, we often take moments of silence to acknowledge those events, the names of the fallen, as a show of strength and hope.
In recent years, the push for equality and social justice has turned into a kinetic locomotive, increasing in force and volume. The cries for change don’t need a bullhorn to be heard inasmuch as leadership needs hearing aids. Sports has once again become a platform for those expressions. The NFL, NHL, WNBA and MLB have all had its players demonstrate during the country’s national anthem. Various professional leagues have had to dealt with outrage and boycotting from both sides of the spectrum of reaction.
In just a few days, the 2017-18 NBA season will begin. Commissioner Adam Silver has given an official statement, reiterating the rule the Association has in place mandating that players stand for the anthem. Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith has already expressed his dismissal of it, and it is a very peculiar move, considering the season has yet to start. Nonetheless, the first move has been made in regards to how the league office views the idea of potential protest.
Protest and other demonstrations are not new to the NBA court. From former Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, to various players wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts to bring awareness to the death of Eric Garner, to the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks leaving the court before the national anthem is played, expressions of discontent with the country’s injustices within professional basketball is not a new phenomena. In this age of heightened awareness, social issues are no longer left at arena entrances. The world at-large, for better or worse, blends into all facets of life, and sports are not exempt.
So where does this leave the Association? It is very likely that both players who have demonstrated previously, as well as new demonstrators, will test Silver’s implementation of this anthem rule. Aside from the constantly inaccurate argument which implies the protests are disrespectful to the military, the flag and the song, we can be sure the conversion about injustice will be a part of press conferences, locker room interviews and the like. The ticker that scrolls horizontally at the bottom of the NBA TV broadcast might as well have a powerful quotation from LeBron James right next to that night’s box score.
Sadly, it does not appear injustice will end during the NBA season. This means that there will likely be another unfortunate event that further highlights the horrid state of this country’s social climate. Yet, despite that being a terrible possibility, we need sports to help further the conversation for the better. We need as many areas of life shining on racial injustice, equality, domestic violence and the other senseless ideals that plague the United States.
The ball is in your court, NBA. It’s time you joined the game.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse’s good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.