Kobritz: NBA takes ‘politically correct’ to a ridiculous extreme
BEYOND THE LINES
We have reached a new nadir in the era of political correctness. A number of NBA players insist that team owners no longer refer to themselves as “owners” because the word is racially insensitive and offends them.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver agrees. “I completely respect” when players are against the [term owner]. “I don’t want to overreact to the term, because… people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word,” Silver said in a recent interview with TMZ. “We [the league] call our team owners ‘governor’ of the team…” Unfortunately, that’s exactly the kind of overreaction that Silver says he wants to avoid.
Some NBA teams mimic the league office and use terms like “governor,” “chairman” and “CEO” in lieu of owner. However, a random check of team websites shows a handful of teams — including the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets — still use the term “owner” in the staff directory or in their team media guides.
The most outspoken critic of the word owner is Warriors forward Draymond Green. In 2017, Green had a back and forth with Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban after Green wrote in an Instagram post that “to be owned by someone just sets a bad precedent.”
Cuban told ESPN that Green “[is trying] to create some connotation that owning equity in a company that you busted your ass for is the equivalent of ownership in terms of people, that’s just wrong. Don’t try to suggest that because we have a team and the nomenclature is ‘owners’ because we own shares of stock, own equity, that it’s analogous to slavery. That’s just as bad as [Houston] Texans owner Bob McNair’s comment,” said Cuban, in reference to McNair saying at an NFL meeting in October 2017, “we can’t have inmates running the prison.”
Green has refused to let the controversy he instigated die. In a reply to Cuban he said, “We all can own equity and that’s fine. But Mark Cuban will never know or understand how it feels for me, a young, black, African American, to turn on the TV and see what happened in Charlottesville.”
In case you’re confused, Green equated owning a business with the riot in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. He also equated being paid $30 million per year with slavery. Yet Green refers to himself as “owner” of a company in his Twitter handle. Presumably, all his employees are white.
Several of Green’s teammates support his position, including Andre Iguodala, who is the Players’ Association vice president. If players can’t distinguish between owning a business and slavery, i.e., owning human beings, it’s an admission they spent precious little time in a classroom, or they didn’t pay attention when they were there.
When someone owns a business, be it a sports team or a McDonald’s, they own a piece of paper – the franchise – along with real and personal property, not the employees. The entire controversy is utter nonsense, the kind of specious PC issue that only makes legitimate racial sensitivity arguments difficult to appreciate.
Jordan Kobritz is a non-practicing attorney and CPA, former Minor League Baseball team owner and current investor in MiLB teams. He is a professor in the Sport Management Department at SUNY Cortland and maintains the blog, sportsbeyondthelines.com. The opinions contained in this column are the author’s. Kobritz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.