NBA commissioner Adam Silver has framed his league resuming as a noble pursuit.
He’s doubling down as his league moves toward resuming in Disney World.
Silver, via ESPN:
A lot of people pointed to the financial component to this.
The incremental difference between, at this point, playing and not play isn’t nearly as great as people think – especially given the enormous expense of putting this on. Really, it’s more a sense from the entire NBA community that we have an obligation to try this, because the alternative is to stay on the sidelines and the alternative is to, in essence, give in to this virus.
I’m not sure how much profit people think the league stands to turn from this restart, let alone what Silver believes people think. But I can’t imagine owners continuing if they weren’t making money from this.
Which makes Silver calling it an “obligation” so off-putting.
The NBA is a business to make money. It’s not some cause for the greater good.
Dwight Howard was correct when he said basketball “isn’t needed at this moment.” But he was also too narrow. Basketball isn’t needed at any moment.
Howard’s statement linked him with Kyrie Irving, who is leading a coalition questioning the NBA’s restart. Whatever you think of whether NBA players sitting out would help the current movement of combatting racism in our country, Irving’s coalition is absolutely correct in identifying this grievance: “As an oppressed community we are going on 500-plus years of being systemically targeted, used for our IP [intellectual property]/Talent.”
Silver’s remarks make that ring even truer.
The NBA plans to send a predominantly black group of players into relatively unpleasant conditions for several weeks for the league to make money. Owners, mostly white, would stay home and reap the rewards.
And that could all be OK. Owners shouldn’t go to the bubble. That would jeopardize their health and present greater risk for everyone in the bubble. Players should evaluate the plan on its merits. Isolating in Disney World, playing games and protecting high salaries might be a reasonable deal.
But Silver framing the restart as an “obligation” puts the NBA into a higher esteem than it belongs. It’s gross, especially when an actually important topic – the systematic racism plaguing our country – is at the forefront of the national conversation.