NBA player protests should create reason to pause and think

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Referees huddle on an empty court at game time of a scheduled game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic for Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)

    Referees huddle on an empty court at game time of a scheduled game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic for Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)

 
 
Updated 8/26/2020 9:09 PM

The magnitude of Wednesday's events across the sports world are difficult to measure in a short window.

Whether it prompts any meaningful change in this country remains to be seen, but it was a bold step for American pro sports.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It began officially with the Milwaukee Bucks choosing not to play Game 5 of their playoff series against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There were reports of Raptors and Celtics players meeting Tuesday to discuss whether to play Game 1 of their second-round playoff series. So this was an idea shared by many within the Orlando bubble.

The other two playoff games scheduled for Wednesday -- Rockets-Thunder and Blazers-Lakers -- were quickly canceled. The WNBA followed suit. The Milwaukee Brewers then chose not to play their game against Cincinnati, and two other MLB games were canceled, Mariners-Padres and Dodgers-Giants.

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward chose not to play in Wednesday's game in Detroit and was a late scratch from the lineup. Whether the cancellations will continue is anyone's guess.

If you planned to watch NBA or WNBA games Wednesday, if you cheer for Heyward, one course of action is to take a few minutes to think about why these world-class athletes were driven to stop playing.

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Even if you're someone who criticized Colin Kaepernick or bad-mouthed Black Lives Matter, spend a few minutes to consider the players' point of view.

If visual aid is needed, go to YouTube and look up the body-camera footage from Bucks guard Sterling Brown's altercation with police in January 2018. Brown, a Proviso East High School grad, was standing calmly in a parking lot when he was swarmed, tackled and tazed by police officers. His crime was parking in a handicap spot at Walgreens.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was coaching the Atlanta Hawks when former Bulls forward Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken by New York police after he walked out of a nightclub.

Add the fact that Kenosha is right down the road and police brutality has hit home for the Bucks in a number of ways.

The Bucks, and all other NBA players, are frustrated that incidents like the one in Kenosha keep happening, just weeks after protests across the globe were held following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The economic means of these NBA players are irrelevant. Brown's experience was an example of how there's a different set of rules for Black people when dealing with police. Ask yourself what would happen if you parked illegally at Walgreens? A ticket, maybe?

The shooting in Kenosha probably hit home for many suburban residents. I've lived in Lake County most of my life. Anyone involved with youth basketball up here has likely played games at Carthage College or the Kenosha Boys & Girls Club.

The story shifted to Antioch on Wednesday, after the shooting death of two protesters in Kenosha the night before. Maybe it's worth thinking about whether it's a good idea to allow armed civilians to roam the streets carrying military-grade weapons -- especially a 17-year-old.

Most of all, think about this: Diversity is a strength of this country, not a problem. The U.S. is only going to get more diverse.

The sports world figured this out a long time ago. It's well past time for the rest of the country to follow suit.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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