In the immediate aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, America underwent a short-lived racial reckoning in which white people pretended to give a shit about the Black plight, and Black folks failed miserably to fully capitalize off of it.
One of the best examples of this was in the NBA, which trotted out a number of social justice initiatives and embraced the Black Lives Matter movement. But when NBA players had the entire world by the balls—when they went on strike after Jacob Blake became the latest unarmed Black man to incur the wrath of bloodthirsty police—instead of fully exploiting leverage that was easily worth billions of dollars, they agreed to resume the playoffs not even 24 hours later in exchange for...crumbs.
I think it’s safe to assume that during that brief period in which NBA players refused to play, they sought counsel from their agents. So if their agents could give a shit about the Black Lives Matter movement themselves, what do you think they were telling their players to negotiate for in order to resume the playoffs?
While you ponder that question, check out this quote—courtesy of The Athletic—from an anonymous NBA agent who believes that embracing the Black Lives Matter movement was detrimental to the league:
“They initially did a great job by putting the bubble together and they completely shit the bed with all this nonsense. They really hurt the business. […] All of this Black Lives Matter stuff. […] I think that the players are being manipulated into something that they don’t really understand and I think it’s a horrible look for the league and they need to be very clear about the organization, what they stand for. […] If that’s what the NBA wants to align with, they’re really hurting themselves. […] They’re not helping the players, they’re hurting the sport. When the ratings are down 30%, who are you helping?”
There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s start with “hurting the business” and how this coward implies that ratings were anemic because of the league’s decision to embrace BLM. This is an all too common refrain from the Republican sect that holds absolutely zero weight. Why? Because as I wrote about before, every sport is experiencing historically low ratings—the World Series being the latest victim—and all roads lead to the coronavirus.
As I previously reported here at The Root:
For one, with the coronavirus throwing regular sports schedules out the window, all of our favorite sports are now competing against each other. How many times have you had to choose between Thursday Night Football or the NBA playoffs? Or a baseball game and the WNBA or NHL? All of this shit is on at the exact same time and it’s forcing us to reluctantly play a game of One Gotta Go like an Instagram meme.
There’s also the fact that fans aren’t in attendance at nearly any of these sporting events, which naturally impacts our interest level. If we aren’t buying jerseys at arenas, can’t tailgate and can’t link up with our friends to catch games at the bar, we probably ain’t watching either. Plus a lot of these games have been broadcast at bizarre times. As much as we love March Madness, I wanted no parts of watching my Orlando Magic play during lunchtime. No thanks!
But most importantly, there’s a whole ass presidential election coming up that’s kind of a big goddamn deal. And in case you haven’t noticed, not only is everyone watching that shit—between the debates, press conferences and the news—but they’re flooding your social media timelines with it too. Trump, Biden, and Kamala Harris have been trending topics for how many weeks now?
SPOILER WARNING: Sports aren’t exactly a priority right now, fam. Survival is. We are a country crippled by financial ruin, civil unrest and a fucking global pandemic. We could give a shit about LeBron winning his fourth NBA title because some of us can’t even pay our rent.
Are there NBA fans who might’ve been turned off by the league using its platform to address social justice? Of course. But it’s also possible that there were people who became fans for the exact same reason.
This agent sounds like a dumb ass and there’s a reason they were only willing to spew this nonsense from behind the shroud of anonymity. The league will be perfectly fine once the rest of us get our lives together. But for the time being, this agent might want to try a bit of compassion instead of being blinded by their own cowardice.