We are a sports site. Specifically, we exist to provide a platform for writers about NBA basketball. We are a fraternity of sorts, a band of fans who love the game and enjoy writing. That is really all we want to do. We want to recap games, talk about trades, lament a big loss and celebrate a huge win. But then, things like this happen.
March 11th was stoppage number one. It wasn’t a choice, it was a need. America had begun to see evidence of a deadly virus, a contagious virus, and the NBA knew it wasn’t wise to have fans in stadiums so they postponed the season. It was a shocking event and the first domino to fall. After that, more sports leagues followed suit and for months we sports fans were left without sports.
Believe me when I say that I see how trivial that is. “No sports” would likely rank very low in the list of things to be sad about not having. It should rank low in fact.
For 141 days NBA fans watched footage of old games, talked about what might have been and generally were just sad. Then, the season re-started, in a bubble, in Orlando. Fans were excited, but cautious. Surprisingly, things worked well in the bubble. The games were competitive and the format seemed to be working. Sure, there were glitches, the piped in sound was weird at first. No fans took some getting used to as well, but overall, it was a win.
Then, on August 26th, just 27 days into the re-start, the NBA stopped again. This time though it was by choice. I recently saw a quote from Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle which was shared by Mirjam Swansom. He said, “Sports are like the reward for a functioning society.” Ya. Right now, many would argue that our society isn’t functioning well and/or fairly for everyone. The Milwaukee Bucks took notice.
Our @Jim_Alexander: “It’s good to be reminded what Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle said earlier this year: ‘Sports are like the reward for a functioning society.’— Mirjam Swanson (@MirjamSwanson) August 27, 2020
“You make the call as to whether we’re functioning well enough to deserve it.” https://t.co/xEvuPeJdqD
The shooting of Jacob Blake was the catalyst that prompted the Milwaukee Bucks to not take the floor for their game against the Orlando Magic. Specifically, the shooting of Jacob Blake seven times, in the back, as he was getting into his car, where his children were – ya, THAT was the catalyst. NBA players had had enough. Putting BLACK LIVES MATTER on the court was great, but they were not seeing the needle move in terms of real change.
They need to see the needle move.
Today, NBA players have agreed to re-start the season again. As a fan, I’m thrilled. As a human being, my hope is that the message the players sent resonates so strongly that we being to see the change we so desperately need. I admit to struggling over the last 24 hours. Not because of the lack of basketball but primarily because of the division in our country that this brought into very clear focus. It seems odd to me that anyone would be, in any way – shape – or form, OK with the shooting of Jacob Blake. That anyone would try to rationalize it or justify it makes literally NO sense to me.
Yet, many did.
People explained that Mr. Blake had a checkered past, that he had a knife in his car. Others felt he got what he deserved because he didn’t stop and comply. Some went in another direction and blasted the NBA for taking the stand that they did. It’s all shocking to me and it left me feeling hopeless in a very real way.
We are a sports site; that is what we are. We are basketball fans; that is who we are. But, we are also humans and it would be unimaginable to me to not feel something during this time. I am feeling a lot of things. Personally, I believe that no person should be shot in the back seven times regardless of their past or whatever they have in their car. Personally, I believe that being a Police Officer is one of the most difficult and stressful jobs there is, period. Personally, I agree with Stan Van Gundy, who said:
There are no blue lives. There are no blue people. Being a police officer is the job they chose. It is a public job, paid for by us. It is the civic responsibility of the people to hold public officials accountable. Protesting against police brutality is not hating police. https://t.co/cq1abWARzr— Stan Van Gundy (@realStanVG) August 27, 2020
Personally, I believe the right to express dissatisfaction with any current situation or system is a foundational right in our country. That right is one the NBA and it’s players exercised. The NBA, like every sports league in existence, exists to entertain. The NBA knows this, the players know this, we should all know this. Watching NBA players perform is an escape for fans of the game. They amaze us, they break our hearts, they entertain us and yes, they distract us. NBA players felt that what is going on in our country now, what has been going on in our country for hundreds of years, can no longer be ignored, dismissed or lightly addressed. NBA players understand that the full force of their influence was needed to move the needle and see a change towards social justice.
They refuse to distract us from that. They want us to see it, to acknowledge it and most importantly, to do all we can to drive change. Personally, I’m happy to forgo basketball if it means we see justice for Jacob Blake, those that came before him and to see change that ensures no more come after him.