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.