How Will the NBA Handle MLK Day?

What will the NBA do today to honor MLK Day? Will it take the easy, superficial route where it removes itself from any ongoing battles for civil rights and just show pictures with his voice playing over top?

Or will it take the gutsier path and actually raise awareness about the refusal of the U.S. Senate, namely the entire GOP and two Democratic senators (Senators Manchin from Weest Virginia & Sinema from Arizona) to allow a simple majority to protect and strengthen voting rights? Will it highlight the dozens of laws introduced last year in state legislatures across this great country of ours that are intended to limit accessibility to the ballot?

Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for “loitering” in 1958.
Despite the NBA’s noble and sincere efforts to take a stand against police brutality inflicted upon Black Americans, we also saw some of the league’s owners, like the Houston Rockets’ Tilman Fertitta, and top players, including Lebron James and James Harden, refuse to defend the constitutional rights of the people of Hong Kong after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey supported the protesters there in 2019.

What we need for the NBA to do on the holiday that celebrates America’s most important civil rights leader of the 20th century is to actually reflect on the meaning of his words and actions, and examine how the current political machinations in America square with those ideals. Otherwise, the NBA’s celebration of MLK Day is a shallow exercise that serves no one who really cares about what it means, and instead it strengthens the forces dead set on eroding America’s progress toward true equality for all.

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