George Floyd’s death was a personal loss for former NBA player Stephen Jackson. Like many, Jackson has also used that tragedy as a launching point to advocate for racial justice.
Nets star Kyrie Irving has taken a leadership role in that fight against systematic racism. Among Irving’s reported proposals for that cause: NBA players sitting out rather than playing at Disney World.
Kendrick Perkins questioned how Irving developed this stance after recently expressing interesting joining Brooklyn teammates in the bubble. Perkins said Irving – out for the season due to injury – shifted only after being told he couldn’t go.
The first press conference I had, he been calling me damn near every day on FaceTime. He’s been passionate about this, and by the conversation he had, I just think he understands this moment. And he’s just like me. I don’t have all the answers. And he’s speaking off heart. He’s speaking off passion. Because – I ain’t said this on no interviews – he’s been calling me crying, because he literally knows that I’m putting everything on the line.
I don’t doubt Irving’s sincerity in wanting to combat systematic racism.
The question is how NBA players sitting out the rest of his season became his tactic. That path would come with SIGNIFICANT financial costs for players and reduce a platform they’ve successfully used in recent years to advocate for change. Meanwhile, Irving – who has already earned a ton of money, is just beginning a new max contract and is out injured – faces fewer downsides.
Irving can and should make a personal choice on how to proceed. But he’s also urging other players to sit out. At that point, it becomes important to gain a better understanding of his plan, which can be done in part by evaluating his motivations.
As Irving comes under fair and unfair scrutiny, I’m glad Jackson shined a light on one of Irving’s motives – a genuine desire to change systematic racism.