MPAC Stands with the NBA Players

The NBA’s Players Are Exercising their Greatest Asset in the Struggle For Justice

August 27, 2020

Earlier today, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to go on strike, sitting out of their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. They did so in explicit protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in nearby Kenosha, Wisc. The rest of the league’s players followed suit, leading to the NBA to preemptively postpone all of their remaining games. 

The Bucks’ decision is symptomatic of a growing discontent among the league’s players that their participation in the NBA’s “bubble” restart distracted from the calls for social justice that followed the police killing of George Floyd back in Minneapolis this past May. 

Bucks guard George Hill, who commands respect across the league, said that NBA players “shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest,” on account of the fact that playing “took all the focal points off what the issues are.” 

MPAC welcomes the movement by the league’s players to use their leverage against the NBA and in the service of social justice. While there was an initial attempt to do so when the “bubble” was first being negotiated, ultimately the league’s players ended up reporting to Orlando. The move placed the NBA and its players in a precarious position, as they clumsily negotiated the juxtaposition between resuming business-as-usual with the worsening conditions in many American cities.  

There is, of course, a long history of political activism in the NBA. Back in 1964, NBA players boycotted the league's All-Star game in order to protest their working conditions. Their organizing efforts led many players to participate in the Civil Rights Movement, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. They also prefigured the league’s growth as a multi-billion dollar entertainment product that attracts capital investment and commands the attention of city and state governments who crave the activity an NBA franchise would bring with it. 

The intimate relationship between the owners of NBA franchises and city governments means that the NBA players have substantial leverage to make policy changes.

We want to extend our gratitude to the Milwaukee Bucks players for honoring the legacy of the NBA players like Robertson and Abdul-Jabbar and for continuing the struggle for social justice. We stand with the league’s players and the NBPA as they take this fight outside of the NBA bubble and into the halls of power.



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