Pick one NBA owner to botch a memo on the death of George Floyd.
If you didn’t go with Jame Dolan of the New York Knicks, you haven’t been paying attention.
Refusing to release a public statement on Floyd, like almost every other NBA team has done, Dolan instead sent a message to Madison Square Garden employees: “As companies in the business of sports and entertainment, however, we are not any more qualified than anyone else to offer our opinion on social matters.”
You don’t have to have the answers today. What you can do is show support for people who are calling for much-needed change in this country’s systemic racism. You can tell the black players on your team you support them.
This isn’t difficult. Even a bland statement would work. Several NBA teams did just that while still expressing outrage at racism and inequality and injustice. Dolan couldn’t even do the least.
Dolan delivered his internal message one day after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told league employees, “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.”
Silver has long believed that sports can be an agent for social change. Dolan disagrees.
Going after Dolan is easy. But sometimes even that low-hanging fruit needs to be picked. And maybe Dolan isn’t the person who can be reached on this topic. (Is it any wonder why the Knicks can’t lure top free agents?)
By the way, the Knicks’ participation on Blackout Tuesday on social media does not absolve Dolan from his tone-deaf message.
It’s clear he’s not listening, which is the one thing I’ve heard most over the past week. Listen to what black Americans are saying.
I’ve tried to do my part. I’ve called friends and acquaintances and asked questions and listened to their stories – the fear and anxiety black men have of the police because of their experiences with law enforcement, their fatigue as senseless deaths like George Floyd’s play out with no change and the years of overt and covert racism that are part of their daily lives.
It is impossible for me to know their pain and struggle, but I can empathize and show support. Let them know Black Lives Matter.
I’ve also asked what books I should read. I just purchased “The Warmth of Other Suns,” and was told to also read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin.
Yes, it is my job to listen, read and learn more.
My silence isn’t the answer, either. As Sixers forward Tobias Harris tweeted, “Respectfully family, if you’re silent, we don’t know what side you’re on. And if we don’t know what side you’re on, it is safe to assume you’re on the other side…”
So I am for justice and accountability and the end of police brutality and racism that has lasted for far too long in this country.
When I talked to Harris earlier this season, he had just finished reading “The Lost Education of Horace Tate: Uncovering the Hidden Heroes Who Fought for Justice in Schools.” There’s another book for your reading list. It inspired him to do more for schools and students.
What will inspire you to be part of the solution?