Activism remains the main topic in the NBA, as riots in the U.S. are rapidly intensifying. Players are showing support while making sure that their intellect rather than their emotions guide their decision.
This is a hard one to swallow, and you can see it by peoples’ reactions. It doesn’t seem like we are close to the end of the rallies, as people demand something concrete to change. It’s going to be a process, no question about it. But it’s the path the U.S. has to embark on. Things can’t stay the same.
There were too many cases that should’ve been a catalyst for change. We as NBA fans can only be happy with the fact that whenever stuff like this was in the focus of a public eye, NBA players weren’t afraid to react.
Unfortunately, there are too many examples of it – the murder of a 17-year old Trayvon Martin, for instance. A teenager was shot and killed by a former neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman for “looking suspicious.” Zimmerman claimed it was an act of self-defense, and Martin was reportedly wearing a hoodie, carrying a pack of Skittles and Arizona iced tea. Wouldn’t call those lethal weapons.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder, and after sixteen hours of deliberations over the course of two days, on July 13, 2013, the six-person jury rendered a not guilty verdict on all counts. He even sued Martin’s family, claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy, denigration, and wrongful prosecution.
The horrific murder rippled across the nation, as it was another racially-driven incident. People all over the world voiced their opinion, with famous athletes being no exception. NBA players were especially struck with the death of an innocent young boy and decided to send a message.
At the time, LeBron James played with the Miami Heat. James, one of the most socially involved superstar athletes we’ve ever seen, decided to use his platform, and speak up. LeBron gathered his teammates in a collective expression of solidarity with Martin, as the whole team posed with their hoodies up and hashtags #WeAreTrayvonMartin#Hoodies #Stereotyped #WeWantJustice. It wasn’t a message of many words, but it sure spoke volumes.
Years later, LeBron opened the “I Promise” school in his hometown. He wanted to give young kids like him a platform to thrive, and provide them opportunities he as a kid didn’t have. It was a class act by a class man, and it was all prompted by Martin’s murder.
“I think it starts with the Trayvon Martin situation and the reason it starts with that, I believe is because having kids of my own—having boys of my own—it hit home for me to see and to learn the story and to think that if my boy left home and he never returned. That kinda hit a switch. From that point on, I knew that my voice and my platform had to be used for more than just sports.”LeBron James, CNN
NBA stars have always been doing their part. If we want to see permanent change, we all have to follow their lead.