A Couple NBA Personalities Told Us What We Already Knew, Basketball Would Have Embraced Colin Kaepernick
Mark Cuban -
“I don’t know what his status is in the NFL, but I’m glad the NBA doesn’t have a politician litmus test for our players. I’d like to think we encourage our players to exercise their constitutional rights. The NBA is such a global game, I think our players exposure to different political systems among their teammates may help them appreciate our country even more and encourage their participation.”
Jeff Van Gundy -
“Commissioner Silver embraces all kinds of different ways of thinking. I think he encourages activism. And because of that, I believe, some of our players in the NBA feel very empowered to speak their mind. That’s healthy that we embrace different thoughts. You can agree with Kaepernick, you can disagree with Kaepernick, but what I don’t think you should believe is that he doesn’t have the right or he should be muzzled in any way.”
What's sad is that the only thing that's newsworthy about these quotes is that there aren't at all newsworthy. I don't think there is a skill set that the NBA values as highly as the NFL values the ability to play quarterback, but you can bet your ass that Colin Kaepernick wouldn't be long for the unemployment line if he could hit open threes as well as he can hit open receivers. To think otherwise would require such a way of thinking so disjointed that it could give Roger Goodell's moral code a run for it's money. We are talking about an Association whose owners allowed some of their most prominent players to take a much more direct and far less inconspicuous jab at the police force by wearing "I Can't Breathe" tee-shirts in the the most public of forums. Something tells me it wouldn't take them to long to get over a peaceful protest that ultimately started the conversation that has scared at least a couple cowardly NFL executives away from improving their team at it's most important position.
Now, analyzing the NFL through the same lens as the NBA is a bit disingenuous, because - despite holding some very matchable cards - it's not exactly an 'Apples To Apples' comparison. Professional basketball's popularity is at the mercy of a select few players whose personalities and opinions make them a much bigger draw to the casual fan. The same can't be said for a league whose success is dependent on largely replaceable talent. With how many foreign players are currently contributing to the NBA's multi-cultural landscape, it's in Adam Silver's best interest to be the most progressive commissioner in professional sports. The same can't be said of the jackass in charge of the league whose attempts to expand international interest overseas have been limited to largely unwatchable match-ups that are hosted on a playing surface that makes your rich friend's backyard look like a more suitable venue.
Still, it seems stunning that two leagues that are predominantly run by elderly white men and predominantly employ black athletes hold such bi-polar views on letting those athletes express themselves. I know that the NFL's viewership is much more...uhh...conservative, but it's also big enough to withstand the loss of the select few stubborn assholes that love 'Murica so much that they would stop watching football on behalf of an honorary, inanimate piece of cloth. Proportionally speaking, an NBA team would stand to lose just as much as an NFL team would by signing Colin Kaepernick. Just don't think for a goddamn second that would stop said hypothetical NBA team from bolstering it's bench with the addition of an unjustly polarizing figure whose resume warrants a roster spot.