The LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers want to strike for what is right.
After the NBA players met about the next step to take in the playoffs, two teams that voted to not play were the LA Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers, and they are continuing the fight for a better future in the U.S.
In the life of an LA Clippers fan, there are many mountains and valleys that seem like they go on for an eternity, but this is one of the two situations I can really think of that feel like the tallest mountain top. Most would assume that the peak would be a championship, but in reality, the peak of the mountain is seeing your team do what is right.
Back in 2014, when former owner Donald Sterling was banned for life after his racist comments towards black people, that was really the first time that the Clippers were able to protest the injustices that black people here in the States face. There are too many Sterlings in this country willing to use the black and brown populous for nothing but financial gain, and the LA Clippers players at the time going into Game 4 of the quarter-finals in Oakland had their chance to stand up tall against their team owner and his fellow racists. They came out onto the court with their warmups inside-out in order to hide the Clippers logo under their jackets that they took off and placed on the floor.
Sterling was banned for life just two days later, and that was the end of the notoriously terrible Sterling Era. Flashing forward to 2020, we as a nation are still in the same spot. We are in a position where even just saying that “black lives matter” is counted as a political stand when in reality, it is a statement on human rights. All lives can not matter until black and brown lives matter just as much in this country, and yet in 2020, there are still protests across the nation for more black and brown people being killed for their skin color.
It is easy to say that we need some kind of police reform, along with educational and societal reform in order to make the United States the fairest country it can be, but it is much harder to work on it. For the LA Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers, they are using their platform to make a starting point. With their votes to not play out the rest of the NBA playoffs, they are taking away a big distraction from the realities that people need to pay attention to.
If you have sat and wondered at all as to why 2020 has felt so different, a major reason is that the COVID-19 pandemic has taken away a lot of the distractions that we have to get us through the day. Without sports, more and more people haven’t been able to look away from all of the bad news happening during the pandemic, and that includes the mistreatment and distrust of black and brown people. Going back to the Sterling debacle, that ended in two days.
In just two days, all of the alleged racist acts, alongside the proven acts, of Sterling spanning back to the San Diego Clippers days were swept under the rug because he was no longer part of the team. The playoffs went on, and no one had questioned the sad reality that despite being a terrible human being, Sterling still gets to sit comfy in his nice big house and watch every Clippers game he wants. The same sweeping under the rug method must not be allowed to happen for the perpetrators of hate crimes across the nation.
Thanks to the LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers possibly not playing, there is no distraction from the reforms that this country needs in order to heal. In the best possible scenario, the owners of the teams will come together to start putting money into programs dedicated to giving the Americans that suffer so much a chance to finally not fear for their lives and their family’s lives every single day.
If that is the case, the Clippers and Lakers can play knowing that they used their platform for the best possible outcome, but what will happen is yet to be seen. At the end of the day, having “Black Lives Matter” in bold letters on the court is a great start for not letting people ignore the human rights issues here in the States, but team owners stepping up to put money back into the communities and reform projects that need support would be even better.
On the Lakers joining in on the good fight, I have to say that I grew up being a Clippers fan out of spite for all of the bad Lakers fans that I had to grow up with, so my view of the Lakers as an organization has been tilted since then. I’ve also always had a pretty biased view against LeBron James as a player, but years of resentment aside, I could not be prouder of the Los Angeles teams for having taken this stand.
The Lakers and Clippers are the 1st and 2nd seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, so their presence is a huge leverage point against the rest of the league, so their decision to not play the game they love in order to try and join the fight against inequality is huge. Kawhi Leonard and LeBron teaming up to speak out at the meeting for the future of the playoffs will forever be one of the most memorable events in my life as a basketball fan, right next to the image I keep of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin protesting against their racist tyrant of a team owner.
In closing, the LA Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers are the two teams that voted against playing out the rest of the season, and without the distraction of the NBA playoff games, the fans and owners will have no choice but to really observe the injustices that people of color continue to face in this country.
If we want to truly make all lives matter, we first have to take action in order to make this country a more livable place for all people in general, but especially the black and brown people so often demonized and beaten down. To LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and both Los Angeles NBA franchises, this strike truly is the fight for what is right.