Racism in the NBA (National Basketball Association) is a deeply ingrained issue that continues to be a problem in the league. While the NBA has made progress in recent years, incidents of racial slurs, discriminatory treatment, and stereotypes continue to plague the sport. This is a problem that must be addressed.
Recent statistics show that racism is still prevalent in the NBA. A 2020 study by the University of Akron shows that black players earn 15% less than white players after controlling for player stats. Another 2014 study from TIME shows that players have up to 4% fewer fouls called against them and score up to 2.5% more points on nights when their race matches that of the refereeing crew.
The NBA also has a long history of racism. One of the most notable incidents of racism in the NBA occurred in 2014 when Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught making racist remarks. He told his girlfriend not to bring black people to games and not to post pictures of herself with black people on social media. The incident sparked widespread outrage, leading to Sterling’s banishment from the NBA and the forced sale of his team.
However, such incidents are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism in the NBA. Many players have spoken out about their experiences with racism both on and off the court. Boston Celtic guard Jaylen Brown recently shared his experiences with racism, saying that he has been called racial slurs by fans and has had bananas thrown at him during games.
This goes beyond on-court treatment. The media can also perpetuate racist stereotypes and engage in discriminatory behavior. ESPN’s 2012 headline after Jeremy Lin led the Knicks to a victory over the Lakers read: “Ch*nk in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-stopping Loss to Lowly Hornets.” The use of the racial slur “ch*nk” caused widespread outrage and resulted in the firing of the ESPN employee responsible for the headline.
Moreover, this season Kendrick Perkins, a former NBA player turned commentator, sparked controversy when he criticized Nikola Jokic’s MVP candidacy for the 2022 season, citing his nationality and the fact that he plays in a smaller market. Jokic, who hails from Serbia, has been one of the most dominant players in the league this season, averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists per game. Perkins’ comments highlight the issue of implicit bias in the media; many players of all races have spoken out about unfair treatment and negative portrayals. It is essential for all members of the media to be mindful of their language and to avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes, and for us, the audience, to hold them accountable.
While the NBA has taken steps to address racism in the league, more needs to be done. The league has implemented diversity and inclusion initiatives, including hiring more women and people of color in leadership positions and partnering with organizations that promote social justice. However, these initiatives alone are not enough to eradicate racism in the NBA. The league needs to take a more proactive approach to address racism, including implementing stronger penalties for racist behavior and providing education and training to players, coaches, and staff.
Racism in sports is a problem not just for players and fans but for society as a whole. As one of the most visible and influential sport leagues in the world, the NBA has a responsibility to set an example for others to follow. It is time for the league to take a stand against racism and work to create a more inclusive and equal environment for all. By promoting a culture of inclusivity and respect, the NBA can continue to make progress toward eradicating racism and promoting a more equitable and just league for all players and fans.