In a recent interview, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave a useful and predictable, if disheartening, response to a question about the National Basketball Association’s crashing ratings, and the widespread (and surely accurate) belief that many fans have been alienated by the league’s endorsement of aggressive Black Lives Matter propaganda in the arenas, on the courts, on players’ uniforms, and in other aspects of the sport.
Rachel Nichols on NBA Countdown asked the businessman, and I use that term pointedly,
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?
I have to interject here: “not universally popular” is craven equivocation by the interviewer, echoing several Ethics Alarms rationalizations like, 19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice.” I hate that crap; as I get older, I hate it more: “It wasn’t everything we hoped for” used to mean, “It was a complete disaster,” and similar weasel words to avoid being direct and honest. The NBA’s Black Lives Matter boot-licking wasn’t “not universally popular,” it was unambiguously unpopular. Such deliberate avoidance of the truth is deceit, and is a variety of fake news.
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.
What’s going on here? The Ethics Alarms Translation:
Of course, we claim to be in favor of social justice, but as you know and anyone paying attention knows, the NBA, like the other professional sports leagues, is and will always be about making money, as much as possible. That’s why, while “standing for social justice” the NBA is so deeply in bed with China, a flagrant human rights abuser, that we could count its snores. We have potential billions invested in China, and our supposedly socially conscious black superstars know what side of the wanton their soy sauce is on. What do they care about Chinese slave labor, political prisoners and ethnic cleansing of Uighurs?
Unlike the other sports leagues, the NBA is overwhelmingly black, and its biggest, most bankable star is black, LeBron James. Along comes an expedient and cynical movement capitalizing on an emotionally flammable incident in Minnesota and using it to make white people feel guilty and tremble in terror of what angry mobs might do, and of course our players are going to jump on the bandwagon without really investigating the facts or what’s going on. Most of them still have close ties to the communities that are rioting. And we have no product without them. The black stars, led by LeBron, literally call the shots. Sure, if some scrub announced that he was boycotting a scheduled game because of Jacob Blake being shot, he’d be released so fast it would break the sound barrier. But this is Lebron James we’re talking about here. In baseball, Mokkie Betts led the one-game strike: his is the top selling jersey, did you know that? If Tom Brady had started kneeling at NFL games, do you think it would have taken this long for the NFL to cave?
Don’t you read Ethics Alarms? The King’s Pass? Hello?
So the players demanded that the NBA join them in grandstanding and shoving “Black Lives Matter” and “Silence is Violence” and all sorts of related junk in our fans’ faces. We knew our white fans wouldn’t like being called racist and that even most of our black fans don’t want to have their sports polluted by politics. We knew it would be seen as partisan politicking, and we knew it would cost us money, but look: with the season being disrupted and the games being played to empty arenas anyway, , this half-assed season was the best possible time to grovel to the players with minimum damage.
We also knew that our actions would put pressure on the other leagues to do the same, or be called supporters of systemic racism. Well, screw ‘em. It’s not our jobs to look out for other sports, just ours.
Our players may be ignorant, and politically naïve, spoiled by being declared gods before their 25th birthdays and paid more in a year than I’ve earned in a lifetime, but they aren’t fools. They know that if the game’s popularity crashes, they will feel it in the wallet. That’s why I don’t foresee any problem with keeping the virtue-signaling and the Black Lives Matter rhetoric off the court.
Look, we’re in business to make money. In business, the motto is “Integrity Doesn’t Matter.”