Something Bigger Than the Game

Jamal Crawford gets his swerve on as he heads to the basket. Photo by Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com
Blake Griffing and the Los Angeles Clippers are going to have to point their way through this clutter to get to Round 2 of the NBA playoffs. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com
Blake Griffing and the Los Angeles Clippers are going to have to point their way through this clutter to get to Round 2 of the NBA playoffs. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

Some things are bigger than a basketball game. There are more important things in life that supersedes winning a championship. If they didn’t know already, the players on the Los Angeles Clippers are discovering that in full of view of the country and the international community.

A jump shot by Chris Paul is not going to make alleged racist remarks by team owner Donald Sterling go away. A spectacular, highlight-reel dunk by Blake Griffin is not going to dismiss the alleged historical pattern of discrimination against minorities by Sterling.

DeAndre Jordan swatting away an opponent’s field goal attempt into the stands will not circumvent the tide of negativity that is swirling around the team created by Sterling with his latest alleged bigoted rant against African Americans, Latinos and other minorities.

The alleged remarks by Sterling that was caught on audiotape has set the sports community and basketball world in an upside down position. More than that, it has put the race debate back in the eyes of an uncomfortable America not sure how to digest this latest rage of in-your-face racism.

Discussing race has never been an easy topic for this country to deal with.  And each time it does, America seems to fail the test of getting it right once and for all. Otherwise, we will continue to have discussions about race, where people are surprised or caught off guard by what some people do or say.

Unfortunately, there are always going to be bigots and racists who believe other ethnic groups are inferior to their own. As a society, however, we don’t have to tolerate them. We sure as heck don’t need to support them or placate to their whims just because they make us feel good temporarily.

I’m not going to go and watch Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper catch a slant pass across the middle of the field after he showed his true colors on what he thinks about African Americans by calling out the n-word at a music concert last summer.  No one is going to force me to buy tickets to a sporting arena where myself and people like me are wanted.

Are we still living in the 1950s?

Team leader Chris Paul will have to steady the Clippers past the Golden State Warriors. Photo Credit:
Team leader Chris Paul will have to steady the Clippers past the Golden State Warriors. Photo Credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline.com

There comes a time when every man, every woman must stand up for themselves, stand up for what believe in. Wrong is wrong. Right is right. There is no middle ground.

If it turns out to be true about alleged Sterling’s remarks, the repercussions on the team and NBA would probably be unprecedented.  Commissioner and the NBA will finally be forced to act and do something they should have done a long time ago. The NBA can no longer sit and hide in the corner somewhere and wish that “their” perceived Sterling problem will go away.

Where are you David Stern?

As commissioner of the NBA, Stern sat on his wagon for years and practically did nothing when the federal government hit Sterling with up with a discrimination lawsuit even though the case was eventually settled out of court.

It is now up to Silver, the league’s new commissioner, to do something. But actually this matter is really in the hands of the NBA players, most of whom are African American.

At some point standing up for what is right has to trump getting a paycheck. Being unified in their voices has to be more important than any endorsement gig. Your pride as a human being has to kick in at some point. Every one of us, whether you’re a high-paid athlete or coach or a waitress at Denny’s, have to be able to stand by your convictions and what you believe in.

Your dignity calls for it. Your responsibility to your self-worth, your family, your community and your country asks for it.

There comes a time in all of our lives where we have to do what we have to do. You either stand for something or you stand for nothing. The players in the NBA, particularly the black players has to send a message to the league owners, management and basketball fans, that they are going to take and be treated in a subservient manner.

It’s going to take the player to make an impact with this matter.

However, this is more than a Los Angeles Clippers situation. This is not a distraction. This is not schoolyard basketball. This is big boy stuff. Life is not a distraction. Life is not a bubble gum time machine. What the Clippers are dealing with is no different than what African Americans and other minorities have to deal with every day on their jobs.

It is just that professional athletes sometime live in a bubble where they believe they are completely absolved from the real world. Well, welcome to the real world.  With that being said, this situation is still a difficult and complex thing for the players to go through.

What has been alleged said about black people allegedly by Sterling is certainly an offense to every African American walking on this planet, just not those individuals who play for the Clippers or in the NBA.

The onus is on those players to take a stand. Game 4 was a good step in the right direction as players from the Clippers buried the team’s logo by turning their shirts outside in. The players’ silent protest, while not going far enough to some people,  made its own statement without a word being unnecessarily uttered.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1085 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (San Diego Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). As a professional journalist, Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a graduate of Howard University.