NBA players are the most outspoken group of professional athletes when it comes to societal and political issues. That two-edged sword comes with the expectations of consistency – what you ask of others, you have to apply to yourself. That’s why every time LeBron spoke out about the injustices minorities are suffering in the USA; he got hit with his double standard when it comes to China. LeBron made more money with Nike than all NBA teams combined, and when Daryl Morey tweeted support of the protests, James sounded like a spokesperson for the Chinese Communist Party.
”I don’t want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.“LeBron James
One person in the NBA is using their freedom of speech to sweep up in front of their own door. After yet another horrible shooting incident in a Minneapolis suburb, Gregg Popovich was asked for a comment, and Pop didn’t hold back. He called out NBA owners, and included all of them – Spurs ownership too.
“We need to find out who funds these people. I want to know what owners in the NBA fund these people who perpetrate these lies. Maybe that’s a good place to start, so it’s all transparent. That’s all I got.”Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Express News
According to an online database maintained by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, former Spurs chairwoman Julianna Hawn Holt has made multiple donations to Trump’s campaigns. Holt also contributed to Republican Georgia U.S. Senate candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the 2020 elections. The Spurs refused to comment on Pop’s statement but stated they are committed to freedom of expression in the Spurs organization. Gregg Popovich is using that freedom.
“In general, one has to question why one would give money to people who participated in that sort of lie, whether it’s people in Texas or any other place. How did they enjoy Jan. 6? How do we enjoy the rise of the extremism we are seeing? And to have politicians who divert attention or out and out lie about it seems to me to be unbelievably dangerous. We are talking about our country, our democracy.”Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Express News
You may agree or disagree with Pop, I’m not trying to make a point about who’s right and who’s wrong. These are complex issues. But one thing is undeniable – Pop is one of the rare people in the NBA who was and is willing to publicly speak up and call out those who sign his paycheck. If the NBA community wants full legitimacy and credibility to engage in conversation and actions about societal issues, they need to start with themselves, their teams, sponsors, and business partners. You have to practice what you preach.
LeBron and others can’t say they were not educated. Last September, The Ringer published an article about the political donations of NBA owners. If the players want to challenge someone to change, seems like a good place to start.