INDEED, these are extraordinary times. In an attempt to restore some normalcy, the NBA has already announced the purported return of the season in late July at the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
But there has been a groundswell of support for a few discordant voices coming from players who are unwilling to play, and this has even nothing to do with the ongoing pandemic.
Kryie Irving of the New Jersey Nets has been offering a clarion call for players unsure about returning, saying that he was willing to give up everything.
Yesterday, a loose coalition of these players issued a statement, part of which reads:
“As an oppressed community we are going on 500 plus years of being systemically targeted, used for our IP/Talent, and also still being killed by the very people that are supposed to protect and serve us.”
We are all fathers, daughters, leaders and so much more. So what is our BIG picture? We are in this for UNITY and CHANGE”
And apparently, this coalition counts among its ranks, not only NBA players but also members of the WNBA and the entertainment industry.
MAJORITY. Make no mistake about it, the majority of the NBA players still make up those who want to play when the NBA resumes.
That is not to say that they are not in the thick of the fight for social issues that affect the black community. They are just of the belief that playing will be the best platform to amplify their collective stand.
Leading this charge is the greatest player of this generation—Lebron James.
MESSENGER. The way I see it, the problem plaguing those who are against the restart of the season is the lack of a unifying voice or authority.
As good as Kyrie is, he is no Lebron James. These former teammates are now on polar opposites in terms of their approach towards a common goal, but the former doesn’t have the gravitas of the latter.
This quagmire brings to mind similar occurrences of the past where athletes have dared to lend their voices on a political issue, using their platforms to make a difference.
Easily, Muhammad Ali comes to mind. He was the transcendent sports figure in the 20th century who became more than just an athlete.
He arrived on the boxing scene brimming with confidence unlike any other fighter before him. He backed it up too, with a deadly combination of quicksilver fists and knockout power.
He was also larger than life, literally. A big beautiful black man with a sharp wit, biting tongue, and many capacities.
His greatest sacrifice was refusing to be drafted in the Vietnam war, claiming he “had no quarrel with them Vietcong.” Consequently, he was stripped of the title, and effectively banned from fighting for over three years, losing and sacrificing some of his prime years.
Ali singlehandedly introduced the concept of “Black Power” to White America, something that somehow once again finds relevance today, some 60 odd years later.
Kyrie doesn’t have that star power. The only athlete who can pull that off today is Lebron James. But there are those who are of the belief he is not purely in it for the social aspect—he also wants and needs to win another NBA title.
Sometimes it’s not the message, but the messenger. The problem in this case is that the one who can effectively carry it, is unwilling to make any unnecessary sacrifices. And the other who is—believes the world is flat.
LAST ROUND. It’s on Mama Alma Navarro, who celebrates her 76th birthday this Saturday. Cheers!