The NBA has made it their goal with the restart to focus on more than just basketball. Following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota, and months-long protests demanding change in the United States, Frank Vogel the Los Angeles Lakers are not letting the return of basketball be a distraction.
Multiple Lakers players will be wearing social justice statements on the back of their jersey, as well as using media time to discuss matters of importance to them. The players can do so knowing they have the full support of their coach and front office.
“I’m hopeful all of America has been educated over the last couple of months since we’ve reached this tipping point. It’s time that enough is enough,” Vogel said. “It starts with education but we’re in a position right now to affect change with more strength than ever before.
“We’re hopeful this restart gives us that opportunity, that platform, to initiate these conversations and help affect the change that our country so desperately needs.”
Vogel also believes the NBA is in a unique position to put pressure on those with the power to enact chance. “That’s the goal, to strengthen the message. We have to stay on the message and we have to strengthen the message,” he said.
“This, to me, was just the beginning of what these next couple of months are going to be about. We want it to continue on past that but with all the talk it could potentially be a distraction, we want to make sure that’s not the case.”
The Lakers head coach also provided some perspective for those who have never faced systemic racism. “It is a conversation we all have to get comfortable having. We all have to get more comfortable talking about racism. It’s a human rights thing that is too much of a problem in our country. It always has been,” Vogel said.
“I personally want to recognize I’ve lived a life of white privilege. I don’t experience the same things that people of color have experienced throughout their life. I’ve heard story after story after story of incidents where friends of mine were profiled and treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. It’s not right. The NBA, our players, our league, are going to be vocal. Hopefully we can move the needle.”
This perspective from Vogel is shared by a strong majority of white players in the NBA. With sports being one of the world’s most diverse professions, white players have a unique opportunity to learn first hand about these things.
So much of the racism and injustice in the United States comes from a place of ignorance, and Vogel is stressing that remaining educated is the best way to ensure real change happens.
James, Caruso call for justice for Breonna Taylor
In step with Vogel saying that white people in the U.S. need to stay educated, the NBA is doing an incredible job keeping focus on the issues they care about. Getting justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman murdered in her sleep by police officers, seems to be a league-wide priority.
James used his post-game press conference to call attention to the issue. “Well first of all, I want to continue to shed light on justice for Breonna Taylor and to her family and everything that’s going on with that situation,” he said.
Caruso also used his time in front of the cameras to echo a similar theme, saying, “Outside of my sister’s wedding questions, anything today that you ask about basketball, I’m just going to respond with we need justice for Breonna Taylor.”
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