Draymond Green said that the treatment of Charles Oakley represented a ‘slave owner mentality’– Whereby owners are happy for players to speak out or be confrontational when it is for the benefit of the team and organisation. However, as soon as the players speak out against either of those, they suddenly become troublesome, disowned by the organisation and potentially banned.
It can be argued that Green was alluding to a far bigger issue of White owners vs majority Black Players of NBA. NBA is a league whereby, basketball’s greatest player, Michael Jordan, is the only Black majority shareholder in any NBA Franchise. ESPN’s J. Adande wrote:
There is no realistic way for the NBA to bridge the racial gap between the demographic that makes up its owners and the demographic that constitutes the majority of its players and the largest share of its fans. The solution, of course, would be more African-American owners. It’s hard to see that happening, though, when the skyrocketing franchise valuations have essentially reduced the applicant pool to people who made their money in sectors in which African-Americans are notoriously absent.
As Hardwood Paroxysm charted, seven teams have sold for $350 million or more since 2010. Four of the principal owners came from the tech sector, three from the investment/hedge fund management sector. Not even Oprah Winfrey could afford to play a game of financial hardball with Steve Ballmer.
The pathway to modern NBA ownership is a road that’s populated with few African-Americans. The San Jose Mercury News recently reported that African-Americans compose only 2 percent of tech workers at leading Silicon Valley companies. A CNN Money survey found only nine African-Americans out of 682 top-level management positions at Cisco, Dell, eBay, Ingram Micro and Intel.
The industrial revolution that created the first group of super-wealthy Americans had the secondary benefit of providing manufacturing jobs that offered a ladder to the middle class for African-Americans. Now those jobs have been downsized or outsourced overseas, and the tech revolution has served to emphasize the disparity in educational opportunities between white and black communities. This is the reality, these are the demographics and there’s nothing to indicate this will change soon. It’s a structural issue that’s well beyond the NBA’s range.
Adande’s point is about how extreme wealth acquisition is an uphill struggle for many Black Americans; even the millionaire basketball players will struggle to gain similar wealth to their ‘owners’. Therefore, instances like this will potentially continue, whereby, legendary players are being mistreated and younger players feeling like they are ‘new slaves’ as Kanye West put it.
The point here is not that there should be no white owners or all Black owners. The point is the inequality in society makes it less possible for Black people to become owners of the many sports and music forms that they are the primary ‘entertainers’ and ‘attractions’ of. Until the NFL’s Rooney Rule, it was difficult for Black people to even become a coach for the team’s they played for or competed against.
As I have previously stated when discussing Donald Trump; racism is a system of dominance, supremacy and institutionalised inequality not merely name calling. Hopefully, the system will one day be dismantled and people will see a more representative and fair society.
Until then, the NBA ownership will not be reflective of it’s approx. 75% Black players demographic. Therefore, the current owners although primarily businessmen, must look to ingratiated themselves with the issues and inequality player’s and their player’s communities face in society. Or there might be only so long and so many players that will be willing to commit to playing for owners with a similar mindset of former L.A Clippers Owner Donald Sterling.
Thus, for the NBA to prove it is against racism that is still present in society; it must look to help players to go from entertaining sports stars to businessmen and potential future NBA franchise owners. Michael Jordan was not the only Black NBA player to sign a shoe deal… As Charle’s Barkley said in this video, this current incident does not make anyone look good.
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