The impact of the strike could go much further, many experts say. By taking a collective action against racial injustice — rather than the individual protests like Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling — NBA players showed the incredible power they hold over a multi-billion dollar industry. With that leverage, the players could demand that the league make a larger and more permanent commitment to the cause of equality. Athletes in other sports could follow suit, as well.
The strike could also fundamentally change the relationship between athletes and fans, some argue. By withholding their labor, players sent a tacit message that they aren’t willing to provide entertainment for the public unless they feel supported as human beings, rather than merely as athletes.
A small number of critics have questioned whether the strike will have much of a long-term impact, in part because the players weren’t willing to commit to ending the season completely and because of other societal and systemic issues with race relations in the U.S.