The National Basketball Association has found itself ahead of the curve when it comes to the issues facing American society. At the very least, when we compare to other leagues around the professional sports world.
In reality, the NBA allows its players to have character. To be their own people. And does not urge these players to somehow toe the company line. It has also been at the forefront of social issues, including the decision to move this season’s All-Star Game from North Carolina due to a controversial bill that some believe oppresses a certain population (more on that here).
Now, with some NBA players threatening to boycott the White House once president-elect Donald Trump is inaugurated, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has a message for these players. The message is as clear as day, but definitely requires a bit of nuance.
“To me, if a player were to choose not to go to the White House, whether they were choosing not to go to the current White House or a future White House, my response would be: ‘That’s a lost opportunity.’ Because that’s an opportunity that most citizens who have a political point of view would kill for,” Silver said, via ESPN’s The Undefeated. “The opportunity to directly tell the president of the United States how they feel about an issue.”
Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert has already indicated he would not visit the White House if his team repeats as NBA champs. Fellow Cavs player LeBron James has also decided against staying at hotels with any relation to Trump himself when his team is on the road.
Silver’s point is that these players have an opportunity to get into the president’s ear and tell the man leading the free world what they think of his policies. Though, the game-changing commissioner didn’t stop there.
“Now, if the president were to say, ‘I have no interest in what members of the NBA think about an issue,’ that might surprise me and I might have a different response,” Silver continued.
To say that Trump is a divisive figure in the United States would be an understatement. His often-times direct public comments have left people offended. He also lost the popular vote to Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.
This divisiveness is even more prevalent within the professional sports world, where figures in every arena have continued to push back against the president elect since November’s election. That includes both San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and Golden State Warriors head man Steve Kerr.
It will definitely be something to watch. After all, the professional sports world isn’t a small part of what represents the United States today. Figures in these leagues surely do have a podium. How they use that platform is completely up to them.
For Silver’s part, he believes dialogue is best. That’s hard to argue against at a time when this nation is as divided as ever.