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White Privilege and the NBA




by G. Brown

NBA star Kyle Korver posted an essay titled “Privileged” calling attention to racism in the league.

In his exposition, Korver recants the story of the time fellow teammate Thabo Sefolosha suffered a broken leg while being arrested by NYC outside a nightclub. A stabbing earlier of an Indiana Pacers player sparked the melee which led to Sefolosha’s arrest on charges of disorderly conduct, obstruction and resisting arrest.  Sefolosha demanded a jury trial and was found not guilty of all three charges. He subsequently sued the NYPD which settled for $4 million.

Korver admits the first thought he had upon hearing the news about his teammate and a man he calls a friend was to question Sefolosha’s actions…not what happened? Is he alright? But basically, what did he do wrong?

Another recent confrontation caused Korver again to think about his part in race relations.  It was a few weeks ago when Korver’s Utah Jazz went up against the OKC Thunder.  A voice in the crowd got into a heated exchange with Russell Westbrook and Korver says again when asked about it he blamed the victim saying to a reporter, “…you know Russ. He gets into it with the crowd a lot.” Korver later learned the fan in the crowd said some pretty nasty, racially charged words to Westbrook.

Once the full story came out, Korver says he was “upset…embarrassed…and disappointed.”  Korver writes, “This wasn’t only about Russ and some heckler. It was about more than that. It was about what it means just to exist right now — as a person of color in a mostly white space. It was about racism in America.” 

Korver says he supported his Black teammates 100% but realized that’s not enough.  He writes, “no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color….. I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it. Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice — I’m granted that privilege — based on the color of my skin.”

Korver says he can brag about supporting his Black friends, stand for the cause, but at the end of the day, ” I can also fade into the crowd, and my face can blend in with the faces of those hecklers, any time I want…How can I — as a white man, part of this systemic problem — become part of the solution when it comes to racism in my workplace? In my community? In this country?

That’s some swami, yogi level self-awareness. The fact that a man living in what he himself calls “privilege” even stopped long enough to examine what he’s ever done to earn that privilege is at the crux of racial problems.

The systemic racism in sports is a microcosmic mirror of not just America, but the world. In an industry where an estimated 75 percent of the players are Black, the minority population has control.  Korver expresses what few White people ever acknowledge…that the cards are stacked in their favor simply because of the color of their skin.cont

It’s easy to criticize, condemn and dismiss Korver as another person trying to assuage his guilty conscious with a public posting. But Korver is to be applauded for being transparent about his contrition and contribution to the arrogance of ignorance in the past and his willingness to change his behavior in the future.  After all the #BlackLivesMatter campaigns, the protests, and the marches, it’s going to take people examining their actions and deciding it’s time to make a change before the change can come.

You read Korver’s essay in its entirety on The Player’ Tribune.

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  1. Avatar

    Maglietta Mandzukic

    May 11, 2019 at 4:33 am

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  2. Avatar

    NBA is fixed

    April 16, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    The NBA is not 75% black, it’s around 95% black with only one black owner. Anyways black people we have got to stop integrating with white people. We must start building and owning our own. Attempting to integrate with racist white owned corporations makes us look insane and stupid. Players like Lebron James, Steph Curry and James Harden must pool their money together and start their own basketball league. Our ancestors did this with Negro League Baseball. Why are we so scared to own our own sports league? Why do so many of us choose to integrate with the same white people who are killing us?

    • Avatar

      V Bee

      April 18, 2019 at 5:55 am

      You’re saying what I’ve been saying for a long time. I just am not understanding how a person with the pocket book will keep allowing a pauper to jerk him around. Well, that’s just the scenario of the Black NBA Players and their Bosses. The Black Players are the talents that are creating the riches for the White Bosses pocket.
      But yet the Black Players act as though it’s just visa versa. Just don’t know what to think about my people, except that it’s gotta be a super natural invisible wall that is hindering our People from moving forward; and only by the Grace of God will we ever come out of Egypt. That will only be when our God Almighty, decides our time up. But we must keep on speaking for our uprising, because someday the very words we speak, will become reality.
      So I say to the players, “just do it” form your own teams. Create our own Black Worlds, We’ve got everything it takes, if we only put it into action. Especially when we’re the most Beautiful People on Earth.

  3. Avatar

    Shawn J.

    April 15, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    There’s something I’d like to say about his essay: it’s heartfelt! That’s my real honest opinion.

  4. Avatar

    Tijuana Holston

    April 15, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Congratulation Klye Kroger! I love you essay however; he need to spread his VOICES louder up all the way to the meet the President of United States and around world. However my understand is that he need to talk with his white or diversity ppls to help break the INEQUALITY in every politics to public sector workplace. He got a long a way to go instead of killing or banned black ppls to replaced them for white ppls in every sport games. BE BALANCE, BE EQUALS AND BE SPEAK UP!

    • Avatar

      Marvin A. Smith

      April 19, 2019 at 7:56 pm

      Since You cannot write, DON’T!

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