Activism and professional sports may be two different things, but they've always been linked in history. Athletes use their platform to voice opinions on society's issues that go beyond the basketball court. One of the most vocal players today, Jaylen Brown, spoke about systemic racism in his pregame speech, which shows how NBA players should make their voices heard the right way.
Jaylen Brown's MLK speech
Now on its 36th year, the NBA annually pays tribute to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and continues the tradition of featuring games of Atlanta and Memphis for the #MLKDay. This year is no different, and players can be seen warming up wearing MLK pregame shirts. In the Boston Celtics-New Orleans Pelicans game, the pregame speech was made by Brown, and it showed he's one of the most intelligent and aware players today.
"Systemic racism is real. It plagues the city of Boston as well as the rest of our society."
It's not the first time Brown used his voice to support ending systemic racism. In 2021, in their series against Brooklyn Nets, Jaylen also tackled systemic racism but disagreed with how it was framed in the talks. The Boston Celtics forward added it was bigger than basketball and should not be addressed to advance personal gains.
Unknown to many, Brown is also one of the smartest players around. He was offered a NASA internship because of his intelligence and took up a graduate school class in his freshman year. Jaylen received a good education, uses his platform as an NBA star to raise awareness of societal issues, and plays the game the right way.
Right way to use platform
There are many vocal, opinionated, and woke players today. However, some are misusing the platform and unintentionally spread the wrong information or idea. In recent months, Enes Kanter has been attacking Nike, China, and LeBron James, skirting around forced labor, geopolitics, and human rights violations. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving issued his stand on vaccination and believed that the Earth is round. However, activism among NBA players started long before. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was among the first to use his fame and popularity to make a stand on societal issues.
Should politics and sports be separated? In the bigger picture, what happens in our everyday lives, whether good or bad, affects us all and changes how we move forward. As multimillionaire athletes, it's sometimes hard to imagine if they are really interested in making progress and change in society. After all, injustices don't really affect them much with their money, power, connections, and fame. However, fans forget that they were once struggling too and should be commended for remembering those times and fighting for them now on more prominent platforms.