With President Donald Trump on the record against professional athletes using their platforms for political activism, his predecessor was apparently a motivating force behind negotiating an end to the recent NBA player boycott.
Former President Barack Obama advised players regarding how best to handle the situation during the boycott announced last week, as reported by Breitbart.
“A social justice committee”
Obama, whose background includes community organizing and civil activism, reportedly encouraged players to end the boycott and return for the remainder of the season.
NBA superstar Lebron James has been among those in most outspoken players in the league, directly addressing the death of George Floyd and the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Players united last week by refusing to play, though the decision was soon reversed. The former president reportedly advised the group to resume the season, and the boycott ended in part because of the recognition that younger players would take a much harder financial hit.
“They discussed establishing a social justice committee to ensure that the players’ and league’s actions this week led to sustained, meaningful engagement on criminal justice and police reform,” said Obama spokesperson Katie Hill.
While the NBA is seen as a leading force for change in the fight against racial inequality and police brutality, the league has a complicated history with what it has — and has not — chosen to protest.
“They’ve put a lot of slogans out”
Amid player advocacy on and off the court, the NBA has also been met with criticism over its comparative dearth of public support for those subjected to human rights abuses in China — including allegations from within multiple NBA youth training camps.
The Trump administration has also weighed in on the basketball walkouts by questioning the authenticity and efficacy of the public act.
“Look, I think with the NBA, there’s a lot of activism, and I think that they’ve put a lot of slogans out,” said White House adviser Jared Kushner. “But I think what we need to do is turn that from slogans and signals to actual action that’s going to solve the problem.”
In the end, it appears that both Obama and Trump agreed it would be in the best interest of the NBA for players to return to work.
While the debate over NBA protests can continue, it seems completely unnecessary to inflict the added economic stress on those who work in and around the league by abruptly halting this year’s playoffs.