I had to check multiple websites to confirm this is actually the case but it turns out we’re not even halfway through 2020, which is pretty damn wild because it feels like a decade has passed between January and now so I can’t even imagine how much time we’ll think has elapsed if the end of the year actually ends up rolling around.
It’s safe to say people were a tad annoyed when confronted with a new reality that kept us largely confined to our homes over the past few months and prevented us from watching the sports we really could’ve used to make it through those trying times. It appeared we were on the verge of things finally returning to a state of semi-normalcy as June approached, but that is decidedly not the case, as a perfect storm of pent-up frustration has sent millions of Americans spilling into the streets over the past couple of weeks.
This fall will mark the four-year anniversary of the first time Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality, and whether or not you agree with his decision to express himself in the manner that he did, anyone who denies the issue he was trying to call attention to isn’t a legitimate one simply hasn’t been paying attention.
George Floyd—who died after a police officer in Minneapolis kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes while he was handcuffed on the street—was the catalyst for the demonstrations that have raged around America after a video of the incident surfaced at the end of May but is sadly just one of the many examples of how little progress has been made when it comes to addressing racial injustice in the United States.
This issue obviously goes back hundreds of years, but two years before Kaepernick began to protest, a few NBA players also attempted to shine a light on the issue following the death of Eric Garner in 2014 when they donned “I CAN’T BREATHE” shirts during warmups.
Over the past week, a number of current and former players have contributed to the cause in a number of ways, as Stephen Jackson promised to serve as a father figure to Floyd’s daughter Gianna, Michael Jordan pledged $100 million to various social justice initiatives, and Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and more have taken to the streets to show and voice their support.
Russell Westbrook leading and speaking at a #BlackLivesMatter protest!
Russ is for the PEOPLE, he’s for CHANGE!
“Put a fist up” ✊🏼 pic.twitter.com/D31wpzdZQo
— Jacoby (@onlyonejacoby) June 7, 2020
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s message to protestors in Milwaukee today:
“We want change, we want justice… I want my kid to grow up here in Milwaukee and not be scared to walk in the street…”
Full live stream: https://t.co/QArEzvZyqM
(H/t Frank Nitty) pic.twitter.com/3T5WN5ilLr
— George Balekji (@GeorgeBalekji) June 7, 2020
Last week, the league announced it will be resuming its season at the end of July, and while there’s no telling what will change between then and now, Jackson’s podcasting partner Matt Barnes spoke with Dunk Bait over the weekend and said he’s talked with multiple players who say an internal debate is raging over whether or not to get back into action in light of the current situation (he also claims Snoop Dogg told him players on both Los Angeles-based teams are discussing the matter).
"A couple guys from the Lakers and the Clippers … there are some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play and some don't want to play."@Matt_Barnes22 on players wanting injustices in the black community addressed before basketball resumes. pic.twitter.com/C3ULiUaZ7u
— Dunk Bait (@DunkBait) June 7, 2020
Given all of the variables involved, it’d be a fool’s errand to speculate on how things are going to look on July 31st, but even if guys aren’t sitting out on that night in solidarity, it doesn’t seem too farfetched to suggest there could be a ripple effect if some players don’t feel comfortable confining themselves to a resort in Orlando while people around the country continue to protest.
As a result, I won’t do any more speculating but this could be a very interesting situation to keep an eye on.