In the view of the leftist publication The Nation's sports editor, there is one mighty force who may be able to defend the world against the totalitarian rule of Donald Trump: basketball players.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dave Zirin cast the coaches and players of the NBA against the 45th President of the United States. According to Zirin, those who are paid to run back and forth on a court trying to throw a ball into a hoop -- and the men who are paid to coordinate that activity -- represent "a site of resistance against racism and Trump."
As for their connection to the nation's most noted civil rights leader, Zirin explained:
"[They] reflect a push by very-high-profile players in the NBA to push beyond what Cornel West calls the 'Santa Clausification' of King. They also put the league in stark opposition to this administration, which spent the day tweeting admiration for King while practicing ugly racism in word and deed."
Zirin, of course, provided no evidence of Trump's "ugly racism," but why waste time justifying your smears of ?
The President -- who described himself to Wolf Blitzer as "the least racist person that you'll ever meet" -- marked the 50th anniversary of King's murder with a proclamation expanding the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park. According to Trump, the act honors "the memory of a great American hero, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."
Wow, that's some ugly racism right there.
Despite this, Zirin, along with some NBA coaches and players, vilified the Trump administration as antagonists against racial equality. In his editorial, Zirin quoted Detroit Pistons' head coach Stan Van Gundy:
"Sadly, though, I think the 50th anniversary of [MLK's] death finds us going backwards on the issue of racial equality. The Voting Rights Act has been largely dismantled. Men of color, and even boys of color, face systemic inequality in the justice system, and we used the war on drugs to lock up a generation of black men. Affirmative action is being torn down. Police are killing men like a modern-day Bull Connor, and economic equality is headed in the wrong direction."
Wrong on all counts, but hey, he's a coach and not a political pundit.
Regarding Trump's claim of being "least racist," Zirin included a perplexing comment by Greg Popovich, coach for the San Antonio Spurs:
"Every time I hear somebody say they’re not a racist, you know they are."
So anyone who defends himself against an accusation of racism is automatically racist. How convenient for the accuser.
Finally, heralding the political importance of men who make their living bouncing a rubber ball on wood, Zirin noted:
"As this administration deteriorates, there is now an expectation that these players and coaches will articulate our anger at the reality of racism-without-consequence in the White House....Protest is not a spectator sport, and athletes historically have been most effective at amplifying already existing fightback in the streets, not substituting for struggle.
But at this moment, nature abhors a vacuum and these players are filling that absence of leadership along with unions and various social movements, and voicing a rage that is still finding physical expression. The NBA community has, consciously or not, taken on a serious burden because the thing about political leadership is, once you exercise it, people will begin to expect it."
Or, perhaps -- as in the case of the NFL -- when you exercise it, sports fans will be repulsed and change the channel.