The Warriors Need To Stand Up To Adam Silver And The NBA

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Kevin Durant /

In the middle of the biggest political moment the NBA has had in recent memory, commissioner Adam Silver has made it mandatory for teams to stand for the national anthem. How will the Golden State Warriors continue to fight for their beliefs in the face of unexpected institutional backlash?

Just a few weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors’ biggest concern was whether any of the blockbuster NBA trades would affect their championship odds. Now they’ve found themselves embroiled in a political controversy.

After Steph Curry told the media that he would not want to go to the White House to meet with Donald Trump, he joined an esteemed group of politicians, world leaders, and celebrities who have been attacked by name through the President’s twitter account.

The rest of the NBA was appropriately outraged. LeBron James tweeted out his defense of Steph Curry. Gregg Popovich railed on about his displeasure with the sitting president. Steve Kerr even penned an op-ed for Sports Illustrated.

By the time media day arrived, it was clear that everyone had more than basketball on their minds. The controversy expanded beyond the NBA, as athletes and commentators from every sport added their two cents.

It makes perfect sense that the NBA has become a hotbed of athlete activism. The players have the biggest public personalities and interact with their fanbase more than any other league.

There is a history of players uniting for social causes. Whether it’s the Miami Heat donning hoodies in response to Trayvon Martin or different players wearing “I Can’t Breath” t-shirts, the NBA hasn’t shied away from political issues.

The league itself has stood for progressive, inclusive gestures. Commissioner Adam Silver made waves by propelling the NBA into the 21st century.

He kicked racist owner Donald Sterling out of the league. He marched in the gay pride parade and yanked the all-star game away from Charlotte after the bathroom bill. All of that makes the latest NBA statement even more shocking. In a new memo, Silver has reinforced that players must stand for the national anthem.

How Do The Golden State Warriors Respond?

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Having previously encouraged teams and players to speak up and be vocal about issues that affect them, Silver’s memo now unexpectedely bans the primary form of protest that’s gripping the nation. It’s pretty insidious to sideline a protest targeting the actual issues of police brutality and systemic racism in order to prop up a facade of “unity.”

Blue Man Hoop has already gone in-depth on why the Golden State Warriors are uniquely positioned to champion this political moment. Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic recently opined how Steph Curry was destined for this role.

Now their role has doubly increased in importance. Beyond just inspiring a dialogue with the president, they can lead the charge against Silver and the NBA. Furthermore, they can reorient the conversation back to the prejudice and unjust treatment that African Americans face in this country; a conversation that has been completely derailed by arcane comments about our flag and the anthem.

The irony is that the NBA didn’t have a problem with players kneeling before. Since players expressed themselves regularly, they didn’t feel a need to engage in a silent protest like Kaepernick in the NFL.

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Now that it’s forbidden, players around the league are grumbling. While the Warriors stood for the anthem in their first preseason game, that was before the memo. Since they are reigning champions, they could call the NBA’s bluff. Or rather than engage in the anthem debate, they might sidestep it and create their own conversation altogether.

The Golden State Warriors entered this season prepared to make NBA history. Now they have a chance to define themselves through something much bigger than basketball.