By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
For some time now, the NBA has supported social justice and diversity.
They are possibly adding their diversity and inclusion resume by discussing changing the term “owners” due to racial insensitivity. This discussion continues to show why the NBA is the most socially-advanced professional league, but it also brings up that the NBA does not have more diversity within the owners circle, more specifically, African-American diversity.
An owner is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a person who owns something, one who has the legal or rightful title to something : one to whom property belongs.”
Draymond Green came onto LeBron James’ show “The Shop” last season and spoke about how the league should replace the term owners and replace it with CEO, chairman or majority shareholder. Green has a very valid point, especially in a historical context.
Slavery was a time period where Whites viewed Blacks as property, sold Blacks as slaves for hard labor and ultimately used them in the building of capitalism today in America. Quite frankly, many can argue slavery has transformed in various ways, particularly with regard to the concept of institutional racism through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Jon Stewart, who also appeared in the episode, supported the need of possible change.
“When your product is purely the labor of people, then “owner” sounds like something that is of a feudal nature,” Stewart said.
If you view it as a White man with lots of money looking down at Black players saying “I own you,” the league must look at this situation as a concern.
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A few teams have already moved away from the term. The Sixers have changed their names from “owners” to “managing partners,” and the Clippers’ Steve Ballmer is now listed on the team’s website as the team’s chairman. The league itself actually refers to the owners as governors, according to the league’s statement.
“Each team is represented on our Board of Governors,” the league said.
NBA analyst and former player Stephen Jackson was on ESPN’s The Jump recently and stated his support for the term “owner.” He believes it shows entitlement to a person who built something from the ground up.
However, in a league that is majority-owned by White men that features over 70 percent African-American players, the term owners should at least be looked at, which highlights the fact that league needs more diverse ownership, especially from the African-American community. Bulls legend Michael Jordan, whom many consider the GOAT of basketball, is the only African-American owner in the league.
Plenty of influential Black people own businesses and properties, just like current owners. Multi-millionaire Sean “Diddy” Combs and Earvin “Magic” Johnson are prime examples of Black men who represent what the league needs in correlation between a player and fan based standpoint.
We also cannot dismiss Ice Cube, CEO and founder of the “Big 3” basketball league, and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, who is not only the first billionaire Black rapper, but also a businessman who currently has business deals with companies directly related to the NBA. Jay-Z and Beyonce have a net worth of $1.4 billion.
With the league having very limited ethnic representation at the top, it is important that when the time comes, another African-American sits in at the table of NBA Governors.
I’m glad the league is having this discussion, but if the term owner is going to be an issue, the league should either get rid of the term, or get more representation that truly fits the diversity they promote.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media