Should NBA and Spurs wait for meaningful change to return to play?
By Ethan Farina
Could the NBA and San Antonio Spurs be rushing a return to play?
Since a Minneapolis Police Department member killed George Floyd on May 25th we have seen thousands across the world take part in peaceful demonstrations calling for change. Regular citizens, former Presidents, celebrities, and even members of our own San Antonio Spurs have come together to call for much need police reform and protest the systematic racism that has afflicted this country for centuries.
In a way, the events that we’ve all been living through for the past few months served as building blocks for these protests, George Floyd’s murder was the spark that set everything off. All of the frustration from imposed quarantines, from millions being out of work, from students being stuck at home, from centuries of oppression, all came together without the reprive of what many use as a distraction from everyday life: sports.
There wasn’t a lot of NBA news to distract people from what was going on in cities across the country. There weren’t regular updates on the MLB or MLS to pull people’s attention from the movement that was building right in their own city. And now some are suggesting that that is a good thing and that bringing televised sports back could pull some of the wind out of the sails of a movement that is just starting to see results.
NBA and San Antonio Spurs need to think about altering return to play
Since George Floyd was killed many NBA players have taken on leading roles in protests across the country. One of these former players is Matt Barnes. He’s well-tuned in to what is happening around the country and thinks that jumping back into the regular routine of watching and playing professional sports could pull attention away from what really matters right now. He recently spoke with Josiah Johnson with Yahoo Sports about what he’s hearing from players around the league about some player’s hesitation to return to playing games.
“Actually, Snoop hit me the other day too, talking about it,” Barnes said. “Because I had talked to a few guys, not to mention no names. And he said he had talked to a couple guys from the Lakers and the Clippers. There are some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play. Some guys don’t want to play. It’ll be an interesting next couple weeks or so.”
Barnes would go on to say that he knew that some guys wanted to see what kinds of changes were made across the country before making a decision and that some wanted to play, or not play, in honor of George Floyd’s memory.
On one hand, it’s not surprising that some players would be hesitant to do anything that would pull attention away from what’s been happening across the country, especially when results are just finally starting to be seen. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti just recently agreed to nine-figures in budget reallocations from the LAPD to youth jobs and health centers, the Minneapolis City Council just voted to completely redefine what their cities police department looks like, and New York lawmakers just passed the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.
These are all great steps but it’s still a long way from getting things to where they need to be and keeping these issues at the front of people’s minds is key for sustaining this momentum. While NBA players and coaches who have spoken on these protests in the past, such as Gregg Popovich and Lonnie Walker, are sure to be asked questions about them during the games in Orlando perhaps there is more the league can be doing.
Conrad Burry is well known on Twitter as a graphic designer who has done creative new mockups for jerseys for many NBA teams. He recently came up with a Fiesta themed jersey for the Spurs that was absolutely gorgeous. Now he’s designed a court that NBA teams could play their final eight regular-season games on that would be sure to keep these movements in front of our minds through the duration of the regular season.
Been thinking about how the NBA could make a civil justice statement with the quarantine situation in Orlando, and I came up with this "Together For Change" concept. The court design would be used for every "regular" game, and would be updated for the Playoffs. What ya think? pic.twitter.com/SuQKPxtAui
— Conrad Burry ??? (@conradburry) June 9, 2020
The court features a ‘Together for Change’ slogan at the center, ‘Unity in Action’ headlines across the baselines, several prominent advocacy groups like the ACLU and Public Justice Center flanking the center logo, and has the names of hundreds who have lost their lives to police violence filling in the red and blue paint opposite ends of the floor. It’s a sleek-looking design that sends a message, the NBA should really think about doing something similar.
We’re seeing changes start to happen around the country, but the San Antonio Spurs and the rest of the NBA should still use the large platform they’ll have in Orlando to make their voices heard and spur even more positive action.