The NBA’s sudden aversion to getting involved in politics must come as a surprise to a lot of fans who have become pretty used to players and coaches spouting off about various political topics, especially bashing President Trump. Here are ten times when NBA stars and their coaches weren’t afraid to get political:
1 – LeBron James wearing a Beto hat prior to the 2018 election:
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 27, 2018
2 – Stephen Curry said he didn’t want to go to the White House in order to make a statement.
Curry said, “By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.”
3 – After President Trump rescinded the invite to the Warriors, LeBron James called the president a “bum.”
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
4 – San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said it was time to take a fresh look at the 2nd Amendment:
“Even if they changed the age limit, it’s all a Band-Aid,” Popovich said. “The obvious elephant in the room is the guns, weapons of war, the magazines. The real discussion should be about the Second Amendment. Is it useful? Does it serve its purpose the way it was supposed to do in the beginning? That discussion should be had.
“Is one life more important than some congressman keeping his position because he’s afraid he won’t get funds from the NRA? It’s a dereliction of duty on the part of everybody around (President) Trump.”
5 – Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr called people to vote in candidates who support gun control and took a shot at Trump’s border wall:
“It doesn’t matter that people are being shot at a concert, at a movie theater. It’s not enough, apparently, to move our leadership, our government, the people who are running this country to actually do anything and that’s demoralizing,” Kerr said. He added, “We can vote people in who actually have the courage to protect people’s lives and not just bow down to the NRA because they’ve financed their campaign for them…Hopefully, we can find enough people with courage to actually help our citizens remain safe and focus on the real safety issues, not building some stupid wall for billions of dollars that has nothing to do with our safety.”
Steve Kerr’s powerful message on the shooting massacre in Florida. pic.twitter.com/Lo4k66JG4G
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 15, 2018
6 – LeBron James, Derrick Rose and other players wear “I can’t breathe” shirts before a game
LeBron James was the latest to sport an “I can’t breathe” shirt Monday night before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ game.
“It’s not a Cavs thing,” James said (via ESPN). “It’s a worldly thing.”
Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt on Saturday during warm-ups before Chicago’s game and, on Monday night, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, Jarrett Jack and Alan Anderson joined James, wearing the shirts before the Cavs-Nets game in Brooklyn. Outside the Barclays Center, about 200 protesters marched and chanted “I Can’t Breathe!” and “No justice! No peace! No racist police!”
7 – Coach Gregg Popovich gives a discourse on racism and white supremacy
8 – Stephen Curry calls President Trump an ass
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, in an interview with CNBC, said President Donald Trump is an “asset” to the country.
“I agree with that description,” Curry said, “if you remove the ‘et’” from asset.
9 – Four NBA players, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, issue a call to action for all professional athletes to get woke on issues like gun violence:
10 – Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo speaks at a rally for Indiana senator Joe Donnelly which also featured Joe Biden:
What Oladipo was doing in Hammond was building a bridge between activism and the nitty-gritty world of campaigns. As I listened to his stump speech, I couldn’t help but think about what it means when we call the NBA a “political” league, and why more players don’t follow Oladipo to the stump. At the end of his speech, Oladipo bent down toward the mic and in his best, thundering Biden impression, shouted, “Vote Donnelly!”
Of course, all of these players and coaches are entitled to their own opinions about political issues. They’re also entitled to speak up about things they care about. Free speech is a right all Americans are entitled to use as they see fit. But that’s not a right that people in China enjoy. Pro-democracy activist Wang Meiyu was arrested and beaten to death for holding a sign critical of President Xi Jinping. That’s the kind of brutal future protesters in Hong Kong are bravely trying to avoid right now.
At the moment it looks a lot like these woke NBA stars are happy to shut up the moment political speech represents a threat to their bottom line (rather than a chance to posture for the cameras). If the players and coaches won’t speak up when the league is eagerly kowtowing to the repressive government of communist China, we should keep that in mind the next time they want to lecture us about domestic politics.