In 1968, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, Tommie Smith — an African American track and field athlete — set a new world record in the 200-meter dash at the Olympic Games in Mexico. John Carlos, another African American runner, placed third.
When “The National Anthem” started playing during their medal ceremony at Olympic Stadium, Smith and Carlos each raised one first in the air, with a single black glove on their right and left hands, respectively. To this day, it’s one of the most iconic photos of the Civil Rights Movement, and it serves as an example of how athletes can use their platforms to protest injustice — an example athletes like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Colin Kaepernick have followed since.
If the NBA goes forth with its plans to resume the season in Orlando on July 30, it’s safe to assume that the players will use their national platforms to express solidarity in a similar way. However, over the last few days, we’ve discovered that there are dozens of players that think basketball would be a distraction from the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests across the United States.
Danny Green talked about where he stands on the issue in a recent interview with Mark Media of USA Today, saying that he believes basketball can be used as a vehicle to push the message of equality forward:
The players’ union announced last week it reached an agreement with the NBA to resume the season with 22 teams. Some details were still being negotiated. But since that vote was made, have there been anything that have given at least a segment of players any second thoughts?
Green: “No, I haven’t heard anything of being changed. Obviously, the biggest thing that people are discussing and talking about is what’s going on in the world and not basketball. If it wasn’t to do anything, it would be because of the movement with social justice. That’s the only thing that I know about. Outside of that, nothing that I know has changed.”
There are reports suggesting some players have varying opinions on what could help the most with raising awareness on those issues, and if having the season would help or distract from that cause. Where do you stand?
Green: “The biggest thing is to continue to move forward. When we do go to Orlando, the media outlets and playing on that stage, if you use it wisely the right way you can push forward and can continue the movement even in a better forum.”
Green has used his platform on social media to speak out against racial inequality and police brutality, but he hasn’t stopped there. This month, Green has attended at least two Black Lives Matter protests in Downtown Los Angeles, including a protest near City Hall.
Again, we don’t know if the NBA is going to resume its season after all, but if it does, there will be players just like Green who will try and take advantage of the stage they have. It might seem hard to find the “right” answer right now, but as long as we continue to look for a solution, I think we’re on the right track.