Bigger Than Basketball

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet representing Black Lives Matter at practice.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet representing Black Lives Matter at practice.

Jamison Joyce, Memorial Staff Writer

Athletes have a big platform, with audiences of all demographics. Professional basketball players of the NBA (National Basketball Association), are using their voice to take a stand against the current issues regarding racial equality in the United States.

 The players have been voicing their views and opinions following the passing of (George Floyd). Since May the athletes have customized their jerseys by replacing their last names with words like Equality, Justice, and (Black Lives Matter). Because players felt so strongly towards the previous issues, the shooting of Jacob Blake this month was the last straw for many. 

 Players from both the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have voted to not participate in the NBA Playoffs as an act of protest. Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach, Doc Rivers, spoke some powerful words during an interview that represented the mind of players around the league.

“It’s amazing to me. Why do we keep loving this country when this country doesn’t love us back,” Rivers said.

NBA athletes, coaches, general managers, and owners alike all want to see a change in the way people of color are treated and are pushing for equality

“I should just be a coach, but so often I am reminded of my color and it’s just really sad,” Rivers said.

This is not the first time in history that NBA athletes have walked out on the league. NBA Legend (Bill Russell) held an NBA boycott in 1961 due to the same issues. Russell felt that people like him were not respected in the community and were treated unjustly.

“I am coming to the realization that we are accepted more as entertainers than as people,” Russell said.

The boycott will end and the playoffs will resume as normal to some players’ dismay. Los Angeles Lakers forward (LeBron James) and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul are among the players who feel the boycott should continue because there is still a need for it. James stormed out of an NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) meeting when the verdict to continue the season was decided on.

“Change doesn’t happen with just talk, it happens with action and it needs to happen now,” James said.

Although the season will pick up where it left off, the players will continue to be a voice for something bigger than basketball.

Contact Jamison Joyce at [email protected]