For NBA, a better idea than a faux boycott

The strange, historic, and pointless sports boycott is a mesmerizing topic. We have to start somewhere, and it will be with L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose father was a cop.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers got emotional (Photo: NECN.com)

After the shooting of Jacob Blake, here’s part of what Rivers said:

“We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear.

“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad.”

You are wrong, Doc. You are speaking out of emotion and hurt, not reason.

America does love Black people, from you and Lebron James to Denzel Washington to Beyonce to John Legend to Kevin Hart to Oprah Winfrey to Lester Holt to Charles Barkley to Denyce Graves to Stevie Wonder to Michael Strahan to Tyler Perry to RuPaul to Chris Rock to Michelle Obama to Colin Powell. Not all Americans, but most. 

What you have done, Doc, is expand the actions of a handful of police officers into an American attitude. That is wrong, but I know it is a view shared by many Black athletes. I can hear anguish in their voices and tweets.

But the proof of what I am saying can be found in the countless white Americans who poured into the street following the gruesome death of George Floyd. And also in the general support of athletes on social media. 

Why did Jacob Blake spark the spontaneous demonstration? Was it the straw that broke the camel’s back?

What the players did was called a boycott.

Boycott means refusing to patronize a store or product. Like the historic Montgomery bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks. Or the boycott of grapes to support the efforts of farm workers to organize.  

Each of those had a goal — the former to change the law, the latter to change the behavior of the farm owners.

What the NBA players did, followed by others, was to strike.

For what?

To support Jacob Blake, to end racial injustice and police brutality.

How does postponing a game help Blake? Can he walk now? The players want new laws? How about visiting the state capitol and handing out autographed jerseys? That would accomplish more than going on strike against — whom? Their employers? The fans?

Some players wanted to cancel the season. What would that have accomplished? What would be the lesson to be learned? That would have been suicide.

And while the other sports joined the NBA in taking a day off, MLB, NHL and NFL would not have joined them in ending the season. Sanity prevailed.

Let’s be rational. If the woke NBA takes a day off for Blake, what must it do the next time a cop shoots a Black man? (Cops shoot twice as many white men, by the way.) 

Will they take two days off?

The NBA put itself in an untenable position.

As did TNT Sportscaster Kenny Smith when he took what he thought was a principled stand by walking off the set of “Inside the NBA.” It struck me as showboating. 

If it weren’t showboating, he would have not shown up for the show, as the Milwaukee Bucks had done a day earlier. 

Smith was expressing solidarity with his old profession, sports, rather than his new profession, journalism, where we are supposed to cover the story, not become the story.

So walked off the set, leaving behind the members of his team, who were put in an awkward position. If they didn’t walk off, were they taking a position against the players? 

When this thing first broke, Charles Barkley said he supported the players, but wanted to know their game plan. What did they want?

They want to end racism. Most of us do, but there is no magic wand. Racism does not respond to logic.

One of the players said we (as a nation) have no regard for them as people, so they declined to entertain us with their skills.

Punish your own fans? Are they the problem? Carry that to the extreme and you have no NBA. The players would have no platform. How will that end racism? 

That brings us back to Doc Rivers, who generalized the actions of a few bad people into all people.

Most Americans — not all — do think Black lives matter, as do Black aspirations. 

If the game plan that Barkley asked about is legislation, professional athletes ought to call on Congress and recruit members to pass legislation.

For better or worse, pro athletes are famous and having a picture taken with a pro could do no harm to a politician. 

And I wasn’t kidding about handing out autographed jerseys to legislators supporting your ideas.

That will result in more change than sitting out a game, or a season. 

10 thoughts on “For NBA, a better idea than a faux boycott”

  1. I am still waiting for a sports strike or protest over a black man shooting a five year old white kid in the head.Why doesn’t anyone care about that? No CNN or Inquirer ariicle on that. Why not?

  2. Thanks Mr.Bykofsky,, my pop was a high school football coach first coach at Father Judge and went on to become a professor of History political science state and local government headed there department at Montgomery County Community College I wonder how he would feel from being an athlete, coach and educator. I know his first call would be forfeiture but there’s a lot more to it nowadays that was a very well written article thank you

  3. The recent athlete actions serve to increase President Trump’s re-election chances. Certainly not the intent, and beyond their comprehension. Analogous to all the free air time President Trump was afforded during his 2016 campaign.

  4. HAPPY SATURDAY !!!
    Stu,
    Good job, as always, making a point and trying to present a clear observation to a very cloudy subject.
    You are right, of course, that most of us respect the black people, as we also respect the brown, yellow and red.
    Me in particular. I have served in the military beside them. Worked next to and for them. Lived next to them. I have found black people a lot like white people. We all harbor deep feelings, but we keep them in check as we slowly get those feelings out of our lives. True. Ghettos are filled with minorities, and unfortunately, we have ghettos. Cities are filled with poor people. In that, there is less discrimination. All races have an over abundance of poor.
    These past few years, the country was going in the right direction. When people work, those people get back their self respect and try to improve their lives. Then BANG ! A pandemic that reversed the course of the world and put us back where we would not rather be. It put us back into the racial issues that were starting to heal. Our time was further hampered by planned destruction of our cities. With that came more crime, more pain, more death. Some how, the drugs are flowing again. With that comes the crazy behavior of the spaced out addicts. We used to call it “beer muscles”. Now it’s twisted brains settling the score or dispensing payback.
    I’m not up on the controversial sports strike. I still stay with my original thought. To those athletes that want to be heard. Put your money where your mouth is. Take a a game day off. Get out there and protest. Donate that day’s pay where it will do some good. Sign a sports jersey for a politician, as you go before the town council, general assembly or Congress to voice a legitimate complain on racial unbalance.
    Kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem is completely wrong. Putting messages on your uniform is also wrong. You are mistakenly sending mixed messages when you become part of the problem.
    Any body can complain, but with a little effort, like a strike, you can lend your voice to the problem and help with a solution.
    Tony

  5. A terrific example, Stu, of the dismantling of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc position take by Coach Rivers. Yeah, some people do not like Blacks (or Jews, or Poles, or Mexicans — pick your poison). I wonder if Coach Rivers ever thought about how Barack Obama got elected twice without any White votes.

  6. when I awoke this morning the sun was beaming down on an incredible sight- Antifa – Blm-proud boys and police were all holding hands and skipping through a field of daisies giggling and happy as butterflies fluttered about.Surely this was a direct result of the Nba boycott

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