NBA caves! No 'Black Lives Matter' on courts and jerseys next year
NBA commissioner Adam Silver casually let drop the bombshell news that the NBA will remove the name of the Marxist revolutionary organization Black Lives Matter from its basketball courts and player jerseys next season. This comes following catastrophic ratings declines to all-time lows for the league's playoff games. From Sports Illustrated:
While the NFL is only suffering from a very slight ratings dip, the NBA has seen a severe viewer tune out. The question is, just how alarmed should the league be by this development?
Here are the numbers for the first three games of the Finals between the Heat and Lakers.
Game 1: 7.4 million viewers
Game 2: 6.1 million viewers
Game 3: 5.9 million viewers
Those numbers for Game 2 and 3 are all-time lows for the NBA Finals.
YouTube screen grab.
There are some mitigating factors in terms of competing programming for Games 2 and 3, but they don't begin to account for the magnitude of the crash:
The real issue is that the first game drew seven million viewers while last year's Finals between the Warriors and Raptors averaged 15.1 million viewers.
Speaking with friendly interviewer Rachel Nichols of ESPN on that network's NBA Countdown show, at the end of an interview focused mainly on COVID prevention issues came the following exchange, via Citizen Free Press:
YouTube screen grab.
Rachel Nichols: The NBA has certainly been the most visible billion-dollar organization championing social justice and civil rights. As you noted in your press conference the other day, though, that has not been universally popular. How committed are you to being that going forward?
Adam Silver: We're completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality and that's been the case going back decades. It's part of the DNA of this league. How it gets manifested is something we're gonna have to sit down with the players and discuss for next season. I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there'll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying 'I'm on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.'
Here is video of the exchange:
These attitudes expressed by the league's most prominent player, LeBron James, and its most prominent owner, Mark Cuban, are not endearing it to many fans.
LeBron walks off the court leaving team shorthanded on the final possession pic.twitter.com/ndbbD1dS7I— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) October 5, 2020
Yesterday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had some words on the subject.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 6, 2020
Cuban tweeted back:
A US Senator with 3 @NBA teams in his state, employing thousands of people and he is rooting for their businesses to do poorly. This is who you are @tedcruz . Every minute of your life, this is exactly who you are. https://t.co/rnCV3qJTfQ— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) October 6, 2020
Christopher Brito of CBS chronicles the further exchanges:
Cruz responded to Cuban and pinned the decline in viewership on the NBA's "concerted effort to (1) insult their fans & (2) turn every game into a left-wing political lecture," an apparent reference to the league's decisions to paint and allow players to feature messages for racial equality and justice on their jerseys.
Cuban shot back, saying Cruz was "full of sh*t."
"You haven't watched a game of the finals, how would you know what is being said or done? Since when is a desire to end racism an insult to anyone or political? And you don't think using #GetWokeGoBroke is a partisan insult?" he tweeted.
The back and forth continued as Cruz accused Cuban of "loving Chinese money" more than his fans, a reference to the controversy that arose back in October when Houston Rocket general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. NBA officials and players alike attempted to downplay Morey's tweet after the Chinese government took issue with the message and businesses in mainland China with the Rockets and the NBA. This prompted some to criticize the league for appearing to value money over principles of free speech.
In response, Cuban said, "shame on me for putting American Civil Rights and Justice, creating jobs, growing our economy and healthcare reform over twitter proclamations."
We shall see if Cuban defies the commissioner and keeps Black Lives Matter on the Mavericks' court next season, and if so, if there are any consequences.