The NBA is concerned that fans sitting in front of their flat screens or paying exorbitant ticket prices to watch a game of basketball are not getting what they really want out of the experience: social consciousness.
As told by ESPN:
NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts co-signed a preseason letter to the league’s players encouraging them in the pursuit of social consciousness.
In the letter, obtained by ESPN, Silver and Roberts told the players, “None of us operates in a vacuum. Critical issues that affect our society also impact you directly. Fortunately, you are not only the world’s greatest basketball players — you have real power to make a difference in the world, and we want you know that the Players Association and the League are always available to help you figure out the most meaningful way to make that difference.”
This certainly contradicts the assumption that most watch basketball to … well, watch basketball.
But apparently NBA fans aren’t satisfied with dunks, 3-point shots, and monster blocks at the rim.
Still, as hungry as fans may be to see their heroes be more woke, it is not as if NBA stars needed special encouragement to speak out on social issues. Many stars have found space on their social media accounts between sneaker endorsements and celebrity shout-outs to show they are down for the cause.
LeBron James, for example, thrilled many by blaming the Charlottesville riot on Donald Trump:
It's sad what's going on in Charlottesville. Is this the direction our country is heading? Make America Great Again huh?! He said that🤦🏾♂️
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 12, 2017
And it was only about a year ago when LeBron was joined by fellow all-stars Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwayne Wade to lecture an ESPYS audience on racism and police brutality:
— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 14, 2016
So one might wonder why the NBA feels the need to prod NBA players into even more social advocacy.
After all, it isn’t exactly working out great for the NFL, right?
A J.D. Powers poll found that “National anthem protests were the top reason that NFL fans watched fewer games last season.”
Meanwhile, those on the other side of the spectrum are threatening to boycott NFL games if the leader of the national anthem protest movement, Colin Kaepernick, is not playing next season.
And perhaps even more troubling, what if the assumption that all NBA players are united in progressivism turns out to be a false one?
What if, for example, DeMarcus Cousins announces he is pro-life? What if John Wall wants to support the Tea Party? Or what if – *gasp* – Steph Curry thinks Trump is actually doing a pretty good job as president? Then what?
Is that the sort of attention and conflict the NBA wants?