You want a good microcosm of the sophistication of the NBA family, which serves as a sharp juxtaposition to the real world – the recent incident between Montrezl Harrell and Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks star and the Clippers power forward have gotten into some chippy plays on the court that resulted in some heated jawing. At one point, Harrell made a basket and followed it up with an impassionate yell, “b**** a** white boy!” directed at Luka.
This resulted in some debate online about the racial remark, whilst some, including Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, defended Harrell’s remark as part of the heated trash-talk of the game. No doubt Harrell didn’t mean any racial power behind the words, and was just interwined in some on-court competitiveness. The NBA did it’s due diligence in looking into the matter, and Sports Illustrated reported that Doc Rivers brought up the incident in private with Harrell – Harrell said he would do the right thing and clear the air. Before tip-off of what would be a historic game 4 battle, Harrell and Luka briefly met at half-court to hug it out. Both parties expressed it was all good, no biggie.
It wasn’t anything serious to begin with, really. Obviously Harrell was simply caught up in a jawing competition with his opponent. Given the racially charged up times, it was given significance, and two young men made a wrong right. Symbolic.
Comedian Hasan Minhaj has a segment on his hit Netflix show, The Patriot Act, called “America Needs an NBA Commissioner” – laying out the governing magnificence by Commissioner Adam Silver of the NBA.
Consistency – for example shutting down the NBA due to pandemic before even the New York City, in March. How Silver sets the tone and precedent from top; from removing the racist owner Donald Sterling, allowing players to protest police brutality with “I cant breathe” t-shirts and kneeling, to protest in any way shape and form theGeorge Floyd killing , phasing out the title “owner” from NBA owners for its undertone…
Retirement treatment – Then you have the treatment of retired NBA players, who are strongly kept within the NBA family post career, access to their team games, involved in NBA initiatives worldwide, community work, broadcasting, media, coaching, front office, the list goes on…
Then, there’s the ingenious NBA bubble that’s kept the season alive against all odds: hashed out with the players union involved, medical experts involved, government health agencies involved, resulting in an unprecedented ecosystem set up in a matter of no time. The players, coaches and media are held strictly responsible in maintaining protocols. No cases so far, all good. Amusing cherry on top: Virtual fans set up which has been a fun audience engaging feature.
What’s at the core of this flourish? You have a player’s union that is empowered, and in turn gives the utmost and backing to the commissioner. Coaching staff are held to a high regard of reverence and authority both on and off the court in matters even not relating to basketball itself. Rich and powerful team owners all kept in line by the commissioner with the league’s mission, treatment of their players, and their franchises. Silver has that ability to do that because of the aforementioned respect and backing by the players whom he empowers.
The players are the ones who make the money, out doing the real work, playing the game, engaging with fans etc. Like in a society, it’s the people who are the economy- The workers, not the ones sitting at the top of corporations, who often sit pretty as a result of a system that allows mass exploitation of the working class resulting in an absurdly disproportionate society. Kind of like the NCAA does.
The bottom line is, in the NBA world, important social issues are addressed tastefully. Global outreach to basketball fans in communities all-across the world is maintained at a classy level. No other sport has as many stars that are as recognizable and idolized across every culture and continent.
The result –two young men in Luka and Harrell were able to make a small symbolic gesture almost immediately after to the rest of the world. Because it’s a part of the ethos of the NBA society.
Empathetic. Empowering. Principled.
An exemplary and incomparable ecosystem in today’s day and age.