All Star weekend in the NBA represents a half-way point in the season and affords elite players in the league the chance to represent their conference for ultimate bragging rights about whether east or west is best? The event encompasses a number of friendly games and skill competitions including the three point challenge and the slam-dunk contest as well as the main event, the all-star game. In general, the mood during the weekend is quite convivial and is seen as one of the few opportunities in the 82 game season (before playoffs) for leading NBA players to mix with friends and fans in a more relaxed environment. However, this year’s event, which took place in New Orleans from Friday through Sunday, appeared to have had more weight attached to it than other years. The reason for this; Donald J. Trump.
The NBA criticism of President Trump has been consistent and has reverberated around all echelons of the organization. One of the most outspoken critics of Trump has been current NBA champion and Cleveland Cavaliers Power Forward LeBron James. James, who is perhaps the most recognizable face in the game, had this to say in response to Trump’s immigration ban:
“I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people,”
“I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it.”
James was joined in his condemnation of Trump by two-time MVP Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors who responded to reports that Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank had referred to Trump as an ‘asset’ with this statement :
“I agree with that description [that Trump is an ‘real asset’ to the United States] if you remove the ‘et’ from asset.”
Similarly, leading NBA coaches such as Steve Kerr of the aforementioned Warriors, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs and Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons have been equally withering in their criticism of the Trump. Van Gundy evoked this pretty powerful message following Trump’s most contentious executive order:
Now we’re judging people by their religion—trying to keep Muslims out. We’re getting back to the days of putting the Japanese in relocation camps, of Hitler registering the Jews. That’s where we’re heading.”
Rumors have abounded as to why the NBA has been so vocal in its criticism of Trump. Sure, he’s unprecedented rise to the Oval Office and the vitriol that he has spewed along the way would justify comment. However, if we delve deeper it appears that the role of the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver may have something to do with the league being the most outspoken of the ‘big 4’ North American sports against Trump.
Silver, it must be noted has not openly criticized Trump himself, however he has fostered a culture in the NBA where statements that could result in positive change have been encouraged. This has seen players expressing support for Black History Month and LGBTQ issues. In fact, the only reason the all-star game was held in New Orleans was because Silver pulled the event from Charlotte, North Carolina in response to the state’s discriminatory anti-LGBTQ law.
It remains to be seen if the NBA’s criticism of Trump’s presidency will be sustained for the duration of his presidency but, at the moment, it shows no signs of stopping.
Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
A freelance political writer with a particular interest in writing stories that are under-reported in mainstream media outlets. Especially interested in voting behaviour trends, emerging and marginalized demographics and the impact politics has on culture – music, film, theater. An Irishman abroad, he enjoys sport, guitar music and film.