Sports and politics are two aspects of American popular culture that have crossed paths in the past, but it seems that you can’t have one without the other in today’s news cycle. With the acts of President 45 somehow managing to surprise the American people on a daily basis, many feel that his insertion into today’s sports climate may have caused him more trouble than he initially figured.
The president’s disrespectful and outlandish statements toward NBA MVP Stephen Curry declining his White House visit on Twitter caused a huge blowback from some of the league’s biggest stars, most notably LeBron James. James’ response to 45 opened the opportunity for the National Basketball Association (NBA) to join the movement that Colin Kaepernick started in the National Football League (NFL) and has since been hijacked by players and the opportunistic team owners who employ them. With the NBA season approaching, many wonder how the league, its teams, and players will address not just their disapproval with the current leadership of the United States, but the many social issues that plague this country, most notably, the mistreatment of African Americans and other people of color by the judicial system and law enforcement.
This is not the first time the NBA’s biggest stars have decided to speak out on civil rights issues. Former players and league legends have been here before, including Bill Russell, who participated in the 1963 March on Washington and aligned with Muhammad Ali on his stance regarding participating in the Vietnam War. The game’s current faces—such as James, Curry, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul—have all publicly spoken out on national issues before, including donning “I Can’t Breathe” shirts following the death of Eric Garner at the hands of a New York Police Department officer.
While NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has already made his viewpoint on the subject known, it’ll be interesting to see how players and teams decide to exercise their First Amendment right when the cameras start rolling before tip-off. The Los Angeles Lakers have decided to show their stance of unity by locking arms for the National Anthem for the entire 2017/18 season, and it’s only a matter of time before more teams and players make their own statements this season.