The ongoing politicization of professional sports has seen overtures from players and owners on both the conservative and progressives sides of the spectrum. Oftentimes, player political actions have fallen on the progressive side while ownership and management has mostly fallen on the conservative.
Though the National Basketball Association isn’t considered a bastion of right-wing think tanks by any stretch, such views are common among the wealthy – and it goes without saying that most NBA owners are stupid rich. Bucks majority owners Wesley Robert Edens and Marc Lasry certainly fit that bill.
But what happens when an influential and politically powerful individual uses your intellectual property to get all gushy with a president with a 40 percent approval rating?
Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) April 18, 2017
As you can see, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) wanted President Donald J. Trump to know that his state’s professional basketball team wanted to Make America Great Again, as well. However, as is often the case when decrees are made from upon high, the reality is his Twitter post is typically tone deaf as far as the mainstream is concerned.
Indeed, the “good” governor took it upon himself to rub proverbial suntan lotion on the president’s leathery veneer, but didn’t stop to think about exactly why at least some of the Milwaukee Bucks players may not necessarily agree with his overture.
12 of the players on the Bucks’ 2017 roster are of African descent. Versatile and rangy forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is called the Greek Freak.
He was born in Greece, his family immigrated there from Lagos, Nigeria. His parents struggled to find work as black immigrants in a European country and both he and his older brother did not have Greek or Nigerian citizenship papers until they turned 18.
The Antetokounmpo sons were children without a country. With the current anti-immigration and anti-people of color rhetoric that has been spewing from the White House since the inauguration, I wouldn’t imagine that he would be down with #MAGA.
Rookie small forward Thon Maker played high school basketball in Canada before jumping straight to the NBA. However, his early life was the very definition of arduous. Helped by an uncle, Maker and his younger brother were sent to Uganda to escape civil war in South Sudan when he was only five years old.
Maker has lived in Australia and the United States as well as Canada. He is an eyewitness to the hardships facing immigrants to every society in the world. There’s no doubt that deep in his memories are visions of sectarian violence, the likes of which most pray they will never see. But thanks to his family, and the helping hand of others, Maker is where he is today.
It’s also ironic that his native Sudan is one of the six countries on Trump’s travel ban list.
Though only Maker can tell you this for certain, Trump’s vision for America appear to go completely against anyone’s idea of altruism and openness toward immigrants.
As both Colin Kaepernick and Craig Hodges can attest, other athletes who lend their celebrity to causes, like bringing attention to the oppression of individuals of African descent in America, suffer severe consequences and are showered with admonishment.
Though free speech is protected under the Constitution of the United States, this simple social media post shows once again that only rich white males are truly immune to the consequences of free speech. Others must do so at their own peril.