In pursuit of wokeness, the NBA ignores a nasty racial slur

It was a long and often painful journey but, when the U.S. entered the 21st century, Americans had an expectation that can be summed up as “what’s sauce one race’s goose is sauce for another race’s gander.” In other words, when it comes to racism, nobody should be racist against anybody else, regardless of the color of the racist or the victim. Many people are therefore offended when America’s major institutions – the media, corporations, sports, etc. – apply a double standard.

We’ve seen a lot of that double standard since Black Lives Matter used the occasion of an ex-felon’s probable overdose to justify taking to the streets and using mafia-style tactics to bring American institutions to heel. (“Nice little sports franchise ya’ got here. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.”)

No sports franchise has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement with greater fervor than the National Basketball Association. It could have used the protests to embrace more strongly than ever a colorblind system. Instead, though, it allowed its players to wear Black Lives Matter jerseys, painted the sides of its courts with the words “Black Lives Matter,” encouraged its millionaire athletes to disrespect the National Anthem, and generally abandoned equality for pandering.

What’s going to put the NBA’s woke values to the test is footage showing the L.A. Clipper’s Montrezl Harrell, who is black, hurling a racial epithet at the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Dončić, who is white:

That people care about this issue is shown by the fact that the video has had almost 2 million views. And lest anyone wants to say that Dončić had it coming because of white privilege, Dončić grew up in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a nation that hasn’t been riven by black-white politics and economic differences.

Gary Sheffield, Jr. wrote in Outkick that the NBA should suspend Harrell for his open racism:

The solution here is simple, even if many won’t like it: the NBA has to suspend Montrezl Harrell and send a message that race-based derogatory comments like his on the basketball court won’t be tolerated. The NBA has already set this precedent with gay slurs on the court, why not with racial-based insults as well? 

Montrezl Harrell’s comments have already spawned a million “If the races were reversed” conversations on social media and there is no doubt that if Luka had referred to Montrezl Harrell as a “bitch ass black boy,” that the social media condemnation would have rained down from the heavens on Luka. In fact, Luka would probably be suspended for the remainder of the season. He would be crushed, a social pariah in all of sports. 

There’s no doubt that the reaction to Harrell is far less condemnatory. At least so far. Which is why the NBA needs to act and explain that equality isn’t just a slogan on LeBron’s sneakers, it’s a way of life in the league going forward. Suspending Harrell would send a powerful message to everyone in the NBA and to all sports fans as well — we have one standard in this league for all players, race-based insults aren’t permitted. 


There’s more, and you can read it here. It shouldn’t matter, but it probably does, that Gary Sheffield, Jr., is black.

I can’t add anything of value beyond what Sheffield already said, so I’ll stop right here.

Image: Montrezl Harrell, by  Thomson200; public domain, CC01.0, and Luka Dončić (cropped), by Tuomas Vitikainen; CC BY-SA 4.0.

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