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Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, center, shoots as Los Angeles Clippers center Boban Marjanovic, right, of Serbia, defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

As the unrest continues in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, at least one former NBA player is calling on the league to postpone the entire 2020 season so as not to “take the attention off what we fighting for, what we marching for.”

Former player Stephen Jackson, who was friends with Floyd, took to Instagram on Sunday to explain why he thinks “now ain’t the time to be playing basketball.”

What up, world? I love the NBA, man. That was my family, but now ain’t the time to be playing basketball, y’all.  Now ain’t the time. Playing basketball is gonna do one thing, take all the attention off the task at hand right now, what we fighting for.

Everybody gonna be worried about the playoffs. They gonna have all that blasted all over the TV, and nobody’s gonna be talking about getting justice for all these senseless murders by the police and nobody’s gonna be focused on the task at hand, bro.

None of these white owners have spoken up. None of ’em are taking a stand. Yeah, they might post a video when the season start of saying what we should do, but they ain’t doing nothing.

Playing basketball ain’t gonna do nothin’ but make them money and take the attention off what we fighting for, what we marching for. It’s bigger than all of us, and it’s bigger than the game. I’m sad that we still gotta explain that to people, bro.

Let’s revisit part of Jackson’s comments, for a moment.

None of these white owners have spoken up. None of ’em are taking a stand. Yeah, they might post a video when the season start of saying what we should do, but they ain’t doing nothing.

Playing basketball ain’t gonna do nothin’ but make them money […].

The question begs to be asked.

Is Jackson more concerned with “taking all the attention off the task at hand,” or punishing “white owners” who he believes haven’t “spoken up” or “taken a stand” — and refusing to “make them money”?

If it’s the latter, Jackson is mistaken. As the NBA reported on its official site late last week, “league commission Adam Silver, along with teams, coaches, players and executives are outraged by the violence that led to the death of George Floyd and countless other African Americans.”

In an internal memo, Silver wrote:

“I spent the weekend watching the protests around the country over the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. As a league, we share the outrage and offer our sincere condolences to their families and friends. Just as we are fighting a pandemic, which is impacting communities and people of color more than anyone else, we are being reminded that there are wounds in our country that have never healed.

Racism, police brutality and racial injustice remain part of everyday life in America and cannot be ignored. At the same time, those who serve and protect our communities honorably and heroically are again left to answer for those who don’t.”

Speaking of money, potentially losing the season is not the NBA’s first problem in 2020, as my colleague Kira Davis reported in February.

The league was already projected to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in Chinese business after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters, and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr dismissively compared criticizing China’s aggression to Chinese officials criticizing U.S. gun violence.

Anyway, here’s the thing.

While some people — obviously Stephen Jackson included — choose to primarily focus on whatever the “task at hand” is, is it conceivable that others are able to look at the NBA, along with baseball and other professional sports, and recognize that we no longer live in an era when black players were unjustly not allowed to participate?

I believe there are. Black, white, and every color in between.

Unless those who continue to use George Floyd’s death as a reason — or excuse —to focus on fomenting unrest, disruption, and punishing “white America” instead choose to focus on healing and searching for solutions to legitimate concerns, it’s going to be a long hot summer.

Or longer.

Mike Miller
Political junkie. Former senior writer and editor at Independent Journal Review. Realist. Slayer of hypocrisy. Sports lover (except for soccer, of course). Insufferable pizza snob.
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