In a week slated to start the second round of the NBA playoffs and decide the fate of multiple playoff teams suddenly the stage was set for much more.
Say what you will about the NBA being back, but this past week really brought everything to the forefront. After the issues with the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the brutality of shooting an unarmed Jacob Blake seven times in the back, the NBA players were already on notice. After a rogue vigilante went to the protests, opened fire and killed two men and injured another, there was no more being silent.
The NBA has been vocal about social justice initiatives since before going into the bubble. Chris Paul, Doc Rivers, Jaylen Brown and many more have used their post-game interviews to bring focus to the racial inequality in this country. The Milwaukee Bucks took it a step further when they did not come out for their game on Wednesday.
While this caught other players off guard, it ultimately led to all games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday being postponed. On Friday the NBA announced initiatives that would allow the league and the players to work together for change.
First, the league would immediately establish a social justice coalition involving the players, coaches and governors that would convene on issues of voting, civil rights, police reform and criminal justice reform.
Second, in every city that the league franchises own and control the arena property, the governors will continue to work to convert all of them to voting sites for the general election in the times of the pandemic. Many organizations have already done so but this will allow it to be even broader. The league will also work to increase advertising social messages.
While it is understood that many find sports to be an escape from the issues of everyday life, expecting that is unfair and unreasonable. The players, coaches, broadcasters and, yes, even writers are human beings with families, interests and health to consider.
To expect them all to sit idly by when they have a platform to advocate for equality is at best selfish and at worst dismissive and wrong. There is no place in this world for anyone to be treated differently based on skin color, religion, sexual preference, gender or nationality.
The NBA has been at the forefront of progressive issues in this country for a long time, dating back to the threat to boycott games in the 1960s. The players came to the bubble with the confidence they could use this platform to stand up for what is right. Equality should not be political. Police brutality should not be political. We are all people and everyone deserves to be treated as such.
This will not be handled with a walkout or a commercial or a floor decal. It is unfair and unreasonable to expect these players to have all the answers. The “What about” culture that surrounds these protests is poisonous and tries to drive away attention for the issue. We are all in this together.
We should stand together to fight for equality and freedom for all. These are basic human rights and the NBA players showed you they will use their platform to stand for those basic human rights.
Now onto the power rankings.