The NBA season has come and gone, but certain decisions from this past year are continuing to be relitigated in league circles. This past week, one agent came out of the woodwork and publicly blasted all parties involved for the social justice messaging that took place over the past few months.
This past week, The Athletic published results from a survey it conducted with 20 agents around the NBA. While they discussed a number of topics, what stood out most was one anonymous agent’s rant about the impact of Black Lives Matter (BLM) messaging on the league as a whole.
“They initially did a great job by putting the bubble together and they completely s*** the bed with all this nonsense,” he said.
“They really hurt the business. … All of this Black Lives Matter stuff. … I think that the players are being manipulated into something that they don’t really understand and I think it’s a horrible look for the league and they need to be very clear about the organization, what they stand for,” he continued.
“… If that’s what the NBA wants to align with, they’re really hurting themselves. … They’re not helping the players, they’re hurting the sport. When the ratings are down 30%, who are you helping?”
That answer came in response to the question of “how the NBA handled the bubble/COVID-19.”
While it is debatable whether the NBA’s social justice activities are entirely to blame for the league’s plummeting TV ratings, Commissioner Adam Silver did come out after the fact and pledge that future messaging would be more subtle. Take from that what you will.
“My sense is there will be some sort of return to normalcy,” he said.
“That those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.”
NBA playoff TV ratings fell roughly 37 percent on the year, but took an especially brutal nosedive in the Finals. The Los Angeles Lakers’ title-clinching Game 6 victory against the Miami Heat was seen by 5.6 million viewers. In 2019, Game 6 between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors did 18.34 million viewers.
“We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality,” Silver continued.
“It’s part of the DNA of this league…I would say in terms of the messages you see on the court on our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time, when we began the discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer.”
Yikes. The beef is real. https://t.co/jYnL8dCPQf
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 21, 2020
Although players like LeBron James have always been vocal as it pertains to political matters, things were taken to a new level following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. The public response to those incidents prompted the league to publicly align itself with the BLM movement, which opened it up to criticism from certain sides of the political spectrum.
All in all, it will be interesting to see what version of the NBA comes back in 2020-21. Will it be the socially conscious league that considered boycotting the remainder of the season following the Blake shooting? Or will it be the one where players cared so little about societal happenings that only 20 percent of them bothered registering to vote? One way or another, an answer will emerge in the coming months.