While it’s largely seen as taboo in the NFL to get political, it’s actually encouraged for basketball players to get active and pursue social justice.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver and the National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts are pushing players to speak their mind on politics and social issues.
In the letter obtained by ESPN, Silver and Roberts told players, “None of us operates in a vacuum. Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players — you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”
The letter also praised players for their work in NBA communities, Basketball Without Borders events, and Hurricane Harvey fundraising efforts.
Many liberals and progressives have accused NFL owners of being racist for not signing Colin Kaepernick because of his politics. Meanwhile, after the Golden State Warriors won the 2017 NBA Finals, Finals MVP Kevin Durant said that he would not visit the White House because of his opposition to President Trump, saying, “We don’t f— with him.”
Other stars like LeBron James spoke out following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, putting the blame solely on Trump.
“It’s sad what’s going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that,” James tweeted.
Even coaches aren’t tolerating Trump. Legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has repeatedly criticized Trump over his policies and actions in office.
“Usually things happen in the world and you go to work and you have your family and your friends and you do what you do,” Popovich told reporters back in May. “To this day, I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall over the whole country in a paranoid, surreal sort of way. It’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election, it has to do with the way one individual conducts himself, and that’s embarrassing. It’s dangerous to our institutions and what we all stand for and what we expect the country to be. For this individual, he’s in a game show. Everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country. Every time he talks about those things, it’s a ruse. Disingenuous, cynical.”
While many believe that politics caused ESPN and NFL ratings to drop in 2016, the NBA really doesn’t care, and is, in fact, doubling down.