The NBA players’ strike was short and seemingly achieved no tangible goals.
It was also inspirational.
It inspired people to pay closer attention to players’ racial-justice messages. It inspired athletes in other sports to sit out, and we’ll see where that leads. It inspired NBA players to make greater demands of owners. It might inspire owners to listen, lest they face another work stoppage.
And it inspired league employees to strike today.
Malika Andrews of ESPN:
Sources: Roughly 100 NBA employees — based in New York — are on strike today, in solidarity with the NBA and WNBA players pushing for social justice. They will be spending the day calling elected officials.
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) August 28, 2020
Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:
Here is the letter NBA employees have sent to Adam Silver and Mark Tatum. Close to 150 employees have joined, across multiple departments pic.twitter.com/1VrOaSf5wY
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) August 28, 2020
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver pens letter to league employees, obtained by @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: “I wholeheartedly support NBA and WNBA players and their commitment to shining a light on important issues of social justice.” pic.twitter.com/2SPEunp64I
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 28, 2020
The employees are correct: The NBA relies on its majority-Black players to push social-justice initiatives.
That’s because the players are the ones most affected by the racism plaguing this country. Majority-white owners can live more comfortably. In some ways, this is the natural progression.
But the grievances have been shared (and shared and shared and…). It’s now on the owners – and Silver, who has his own connections – to carry the torch if they truly care about these issues. With their wealth and political clout, they have far more power to enact change.
Owners might resist spending more or further intertwining their teams with politics. In some respects, that’s understandable. Players’ salaries were collectively bargained. What more do owners owe?
But players just showed the status quo wasn’t good enough. They’re increasingly discontent living amid racism, even while earning high salaries in the NBA. They took bold action to prove that – and could again.
Silver has frequently touted the owners and players being partners in the league’s operation. That’s true, as each side splits revenue about 50-50. Black players also want fair treatment in the world. If truly their partners, owners would proactively help with that.