NBA fans sit wide-eyed and stunned as they stare at their television screen as if they have just seen ghosts. Indeed, one wouldn’t be blamed to chalk things up to the paranormal activity, as it’s certainly out of the ordinary to see the beautiful NBA hardwood absent of the squeaking sneakers of NBA stars on game night. But there is no mistake, these NBA players are striking and want change. They are sick of seeing black people treated with such malice and hatred, and tonight, they are using their platform for change, not entertainment.
The Bucks decided not to take the court in Game 5 against the Orlando Magic to protest the shooting by a white police officer of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, in the Bucks’ home state of Wisconsin on Aug. 23. Other NBA teams have since followed suit, and the protests the first league-wide NBA boycott. The boycott did however cease a few days after, but the fire most certainly kept burning.
“Bottom line is, these players are very, very passionate for change—they want to see African Americans treated with the dignity and respect that all humans deserve,” Paly basketball coach Peter Colombo said. “I absolutely support the other teams following suit. That is their right to do that. That is what makes the U.S. what it is, to be able to stand up as citizens and protest and say enough is enough.”
And NBA players do not just have a voice on the basketball court. They also have a voice in the world, junior Angel-Armenta Lopez said. That voice allows them to speak up when they find fault in wrongful actions.
“This is more than a game. It’s beyond just basketball,” Lopez said. “There’s a lot of racism and basketball players just can’t play with that in mind.”
Junior Rohan Suvarna agrees.
“I think it’s an important step to take, and the more people that do it, the bigger impact it has,” Suvarna said. “I definitely don’t think money is more important than showing solidarity for Jacob Blake and others. Justice is more important than the NBA resuming.”
Fifteen-time All-Star LeBron James has repeatedly said that basketball is more than a game and has been vocal on social issues including the shooting of Blake.
In response to Blake’s shooting, James took to Twitter to express his anger.
“FUCK THIS, MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” LeBron said.
Lopez said James’ anger is justified but also said he could have sent the same message with less profanity.
“It could go both ways, he could’ve [used] less profanity, but that’s the only way it could be heard, and it could make it to the headlines,” Lopez said. “A lot of people are tired of what’s going on, and they want it to end. People are tired of witnessing and going through this injustice.”
Although the NBA boycott has ended, the few days in which play was suspended left a lasting impact, Colombo said.
“The players did this because before they are players, they are human beings, and the Black and white players realize that the inequality and lack of equal rights and treatment toward the African American community in the US have been going on for way too long,” Colombo said. “This was their way of saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ We are going to come together and protest the best way we know how being in the situation we are in. I really feel the players were hurting emotionally and spiritually.”