A Sterling League

I love NBA players.
Let me rephrase that — I love the things NBA players do.
In comparison to sports leagues, the NBA is like the black woman of the sports world.
In that I mean, the trendy, cool one, that everyone secretly wants to be like.
The NBA constantly dominates the headlines, with vine after vine, crossover after posterization, on a nightly basis catching everyone’s attention.
Popularity in its truest form.
However, the players of the NBA remind me of black women for another reason.
Even with all the crap they deal with, all the crap that is said, and undoubtedly done as well, they somehow manage to remain strong and make a stand.
There are all the stereotypes that have been made about black men, and that follow them into the NBA.
And yet the league dominated by, and beginning to be run by, black men is surging in popularity and as successful as it’s ever been.
And somehow that still seems to be taken for granted, even in modern times.
Let’s flashback a little…
April 25, 2014
When I talk about crap being done to or said about NBA players, a lot of it can be seen as harmless. It’s all done thru coded language or actions.
However, on April 25, the cat got out of the bag about how one particular owner felt about a lot of the league’s players.
“It bothers me that you want to broadcast you associating with black men. Do you have to? You can sleep with them. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want to. The little I ask you to do is not to promote it….or bring them to my games.”
Those are the words of one Donald Sterling, former owner of the Los Angelas Clippers. He said this to his way younger mistress V. Stiviano, not aware that she was recording him.
That a man can have these views in a predominantly black league is staggering enough, but not as staggering as the response from the Clippers players and the rest of the league.
They could respond in strong protest, forgetting the wishes of the fans and choosing not to play.
Or they could make their feelings known and continue to the play the game.
They took the high road.
Rather than lashing out in the media, the Clippers players took their own peaceful stand, turning their warmups inside out so it wouldn’t display the Clipper logo. They also wore black headbands and wristbands.
They voiced their displeasure, but allowed the NBA to make their ruling. A couple of days later, new commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the NBA and forced him to sell the team.
It was a critically acclaimed move by Silver, who has earned lots of praise for the way he handles political issues.
Just recently, he removed the 2017 All Star game from Charlotte because of harsh anti-LGBT laws they have. Silver is seen by many as practical and progressive.
NBA commissioners didn’t always have that image though. Silver’s precedent commissioner David Stern, while good for league growth, made some pretty suspect moves.
Dress Code
Before the beginning of the 2005 NBA season, then commissioner Stern implemented a dress code, one he called “easygoing.”
The list of banned attire: sweatsuits, oversized jeans, chains and sunglasses indoors. Stern wanted the players to dress like they were going to a job, even if they weren’t going to do the job in the clothes they were supposed to wear.
Some players had no problem with it. Said Lebron James: “No it’s not a big deal. Not to me. We are going to have fun, but this is a job, and we should look like we’re going to work. That’s the way they feel.”
Some players weren’t as big a fan of the code, to say the least.
Three time slam dunk champion Jason Richardson called it, “kind of racist,” while Stephen Jackson said he thought it targeted the hip hop generation and “definitely was a racial statement.”
So again, NBA players had the choice to be defiant or go along with the letter of the law.
Again, they chose the high road.
“The NBA is the most stylish league around and NBA superstars are the most stylish group of athletes of all time,” said GQ style guy Mark Anthony Green in a recent interview with Rolling Stone.
Superstar Dwyane Wade, who at one point was one of the baggy sweatsuit wearers, talked about how he changed his approach and players started to take it seriously.
“It became a competition amongst guys and now you really got into it more and you started to really understand the clothes you put on your body, the materials you’re starting to wear, so then you become even more of a fan of it,” Wade told David Letterman in 2014.
Nowadays, you see superstars from Russell Westbrook to James Harden making all kinds of fashion statements. The NBA has broken down barriers for men in fashion.
And all that after 11 time finals champion and current New York Knicks GM Phil Jackson told ESPN after the implementation of the code: “The players have been dressing in prison garb the last five or six years. All the stuff that goes on, it’s like gangster, thuggery stuff. It’s time. It’s been time to do that. “
Speaking of Phil Jackson…
Disgruntled Former Coaches
Phil Jackson is a hall of famer.
Whether he won on the backs of Jordan, Shaq and Kobe, or he was just a great coach, he has 11 rings.
But man, does Phil have a lot to say.
The aforementioned comment was just icing on the cake regarding Phil and his questionable comments.
Recently, Jackson started a bit of a controversy by talking about James and the “special treatment” he requested while in Cleveland, and went as far as to refer to his group of business associates and friends as a “posse.”
James, nor his “posse” took lightly to the coded language Phil threw at them.
Other players around the league, including a friend of James and star of the Knicks Carmelo Anthony, felt compelled to speak out.
But Jackson, who seems to have no issue holding his tongue, later criticized Anthony for holding the ball too long and hurting the Knicks’ offense.
And then enters George Karl, another former coach who seems and angry and has a lot to prove.
Karl has been going on a spree calling guys out, both in the media and in excerpts from his new book.
He took shots at Anthony and former teammate Kenyon Martin, saying their lack of father figures led to him having a hard time coaching them.
He also said of Anthony: “He also was a user of people, addicted to the spotlight and very unhappy when he had to share it.”
But even after hearing these words from his former coach and own GM, Anthony continued the theme of many NBA players.
Taking the high road.
Anthony questioned why these things were being said, but refrained from throwing insults back at the two. Instead, he has put his focus into helping leading a resurgent Knicks squad to the playoffs.
There are countless other acts from NBA players taking a stand and doing what’s, like the Miami Heat wearing all black hoodies in a tribute to Trayvon Martin and posting the picture on social media during the George Zimmerman trial.
NBA players seem to be ahead of other leagues when it comes to taking a stand and presenting positive figures. The administrators and fans of the league also seem to be more tolerant of players taking a stand, as there hasn’t been the backlash that you’d see a Colin Kaepernick receive.
The NBA also has seen ratings boost and salary caps skyrocket due to the popularity of its figures.
So for the best of the other leagues, I’d advise they follow suit.

Keith A. Boggs is a third year Media Communications major at the University of Toledo. He has aspirations of being a television anchor and part-time journalist, with the hopes of going into politics one day. A native of Detroit, Michigan and a big sports fan, his favorite teams of course are his hometown's professional teams and the Michigan Wolverines.

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