Times are changing and the NBA, as we approach the 66th All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, had taken a strong stand. The game was moved a year ago, remember, to New Orleans from Charlotte because of the controversial House Bill 2, the law known as the bathroom bill of North Carolina.
It’s no secret that the NBA game has seen a spectacular growth spurt. Eight different players — Jimmy Butler, Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Isiah Thomas, Klay Thompson, John Wall and Russell Westbrook — have already scored 50 points or more in games.
Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple double: 30.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game. If he succeeds he’ll be the second player (after Oscar Robertson) in NBA history to accomplish the rare feat. So far he has 62 career triple doubles. Golden State is on a 70-win clip again, and the Timberwolves are, well, the Timberwolves.
Somebody said politics and sports don’t mix. However, since Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office, the NBA coaches and players have let the White House have it. So many of the NBA players are born in different countries, and the game invites many cultures. It’s clear that the policies that Trump is pursuing have angered many. Top NBA coaches Greg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, and Steve Kerr have all made it clear that Trump is bad news.
LeBron James and the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers refused as a team to stay in the Trump Towers Hotel while visiting the New York Knicks. The Cleveland ownership traveling party booked the hotel, but the players put up a red flag saying no way.
Stephen Curry, the NBA’s two-time MVP and last year’s scoring champion, disagreed with the CEO of Under Armour apparel company. Curry is paid handsomely by them — $4 million per year on his endorsement shoe deal. After hearing that the Under Armour CEO said, “Donald Trump is an asset,” Curry responded, “If he drops the ‘et’ I’m okay with that.”
The NFL Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady are friends with Trump. This puts many of their fans, particularly Black fans, in an uncomfortable position.
During Super Bowl LI in Houston, no mention of Trump appeared in any official NFL written distribution of interviews recorded by NFL personnel, by Super Bowl players or coaches from the daily media sessions. His name came up among the 5,000 accredited media in questions, but not on the record.
Trump apparently made a disparaging remark about Commissioner Roger Goodell in support of his buddy Brady after the four-game suspension related to the Deflategate controversy. Politics and policies and the mixing of billionaire owners and their comfort zones alienate millionaire players. Yes, they have put sports leagues and players on the front line.
With social media in the game, the world gets to keep score so to speak. Many Black players from the champion Patriots are letting it be known they will not visit the Trump White House.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.