All those seasons and all those games that Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls chose not to play, he was being a revolutionary. He was making a bold statement toward justice and racial equality for all!
AT LEAST THAT seems to be what certain activists in Cleveland would have us think, what with the way they say it would mean something if LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers chose to not play in the next few games his NBA team plays – as a way of showing his outrage over the fact that prosecutors in Cleveland will not be seeking criminal charges against the local cops who killed a 12-year-old black boy.
That decision was made Monday, and the outcry on Tuesday was trying to make James himself a visible part of their contempt for the police and for society as a whole.
Now as of my writing this, James himself has kept his mouth shut. He hasn’t given any indication that he’d even consider the request of the activists.
A part of me suspects that he, and most other professional athletes, live in their own little world and certainly don’t want to be bothered by anything that doesn’t happen directly on the court.
CHECKING OUT THE gams on the dance squads that many sports teams use as half-time entertainment is about as much of a statement as many of these guys want to do.
So when I hear of James being asked to make a political statement, I can’t help but think back to the days when Michael Jordan was predominant and he was asked to get involved in electoral politics – particularly to make statements against some of the most outrageous nonsense being spewed then by the ideologues on the Republican side.
Jordan, we recall, refused. He kept quiet, although he made a brief statement about how “Republicans buy shoes too,” referring to the “Air Jordan” brand of athletic shoes. He wasn’t about to risk his financial bottom line by doing anything that would offend potential customers of a product being his identity.
Why do I suspect LeBron James will be inclined to take the same attitude, no matter how much pressure any activist types decide to try to push on him. He’ll say as little as he has too.
BESIDES, I CAN’T help but think that the idea of a ballplayer deciding to sit on the bench for a few games would not have the desired result. Particularly since many sports fans most enjoy it when their professional athletes behave like dumb ballplayers who know even less than the sideline cheerleaders.
It’s why I joke about the concept that Rose was being a revolutionary when he refused to play. We all know that just isn’t true.
He may well have been recovering from surgery and decided not to rush his attempt to come back to play. But the only cause he was touting was himself and his lazy streak.
Of course, my own attitude about this issue may be swayed by the fact that I’m from Chicago, and there are many of our own professional athletes we’d rather see less of because they manage to stink up the field every time they take too it.
TAKE JAY CUTLER for instance. The quarterback of our Chicago Bears ought to be the ultimate sports figure in the Second City. Yet for as much as he manages to infuriate us, what would happen if someone were to suggest that Cutler sit out a few games to show support for those who want police punishment for the death of Laquan McDonald?
It would probably have the reverse effect of driving up support for the Chicago cop who now faces six counts of murder for McDonald’s death! Heck, we local sports fans would probably support anything if it meant that Cutler were to just wither away.
Somehow, I doubt that sports fans in Cleveland are all that much different.
Besides, any city that actually defends the image of Chief Wahoo by its baseball club isn’t going to be a place that feels the need to influence police/black people relations on its ball fields and athletic courts.