Letter From a Disappointed NBA Fan

Had to get honest and personal

As a draft-head I loved the whole Warriors story. Without a top 5 pick, they have built the foundation of one of the most impressive teams in history through the draft. I also always liked and respected Steve Kerr, since his Bulls days as a player, and through various Bill Simmons podcast as a person. But I feel like all of them have really missed the plot with Draymond’s assault on Jordan Poole. People call it a confrontation, an altercation, this and that, but aren’t dumb, we have eyes (thanks to TMZ of all places) and we know what really went down. A man was assaulted with malicious and venomous intent by a teammate. This teammate is 9 years older, a pillar of the organization, an important cog in the NBA machine on and off the court and someone who, based on his social standing, is a role model to a lot young men.

A lot of the people around the team and Green’s agency want us to focus and to blame on the person who leaked it. They want to control the narrative and want us to believe that this person who leaked it, did something abominable, something that “Breaks the Code”. But, how valuable, good or moral is the “Code” really? The leak isn’t the issue, the issue is the toxicity inside the NBA. The stuff that gets leaked is just the tip of the iceberg. If you think only Sarver and Sterling are owners who have racist incidents in their past, you are wrong. If you think Ime Udoka is the only one who behaves around women the wrong way (we still don’t know what really happened, but if you have to hire a large law firm, its probably a mix of harassment and misogyny), if you think Draymond Green is the only player who is abusive towards his teammates both physically and psychologically, you are gravely mistaken.

There are various severely toxic behaviors inside the hierarchy of the average NBA team. To take one example, every single rookie goes through initiation hazing. I would bet every finger I’m typing with right now that there are plenty of NBA versions of the Dolphins Jonathan Martin that never got leaked. This Draymond Green debacle was perfect opportunity for a Mea Culpa, to reflect, draw the line and promise to be better as a league. But the Warriors and the NBA as a whole (with whose PR department I’m sure the Warriors coordinated during the last few days) aren’t ready to deal with this issue right now. The new TV deal needs to be negotiated and you can’t deal or air out things that could potentially hurt the profit.

None of this would sting and feel disappointing to me personally if the NBA didn’t position itself as a league that cares about people, their wellbeing and their rights. In a world where most sports is usually oriented towards right wing politics (be it in the US, or in Europe where I’m from) it is refreshing to see a sports league that tries to reflect certain left wing policies. But more and more the NBA strikes me as a bunch of “Slam Dunk Moralists”. A player will write a piece about mental health, and millions will applaud. A coach will say something about how wrong it is to gun down children, and millions will applaud. But rookies still get hazed, stars will still demean end of the bench guys, teammates will get punched and the ones to blame will be the ones who expose this to the world.

It’s a weird moment we are living in right now. On one side we have a bunch of male millionaires and billionaires that don’t have the courage to address something that’s eating their organization from within. On the other side you have a bunch of broke women in their teens and 20s, with enough courage to protest and try to change what’s eating their lives and their country from the inside. The males would only risk a small deduction of their already lavish, stupendous wealth. The women are risking their lives.

Am I surprised that’s the case? No. Am I surprised not a single person inside the NBA supported the Iranian women in their potential revolution? No. Am I surprised that the NBA is holding games in Abu Dhabi, the capital of a country that has human right violation reports longer than War and Peace? No.

The NBA isn’t caring, nor changing itself or the world. It is only a capitalistic institution like every other, ready to invest its time and energy only in actions that help it become more profitable. And as of today, one less League Pass subscriber.

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