You’re the NBA Champion, but now you want to take basketball away from communities?
Seems like only yesterday Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors to Toronto’s first NBA Championship. Millions swarmed downtown Toronto to honor their hometown champions, “We The North” being chanted loudly and proudly.
Oh what a difference two weeks makes.
Today we’re learning about basketball drama in Toronto that has nothing to do with the Raptors. Instead, the city was going to certain neighborhoods and taking down basketball hoops from public courts.
— Mitch Robson (@_mitchrobson) June 26, 2019
After that video went viral, the city responded and announced that they were reversing their decision and wouldn’t pull any more hoops down.
— Brad Ross (@bradrossTO) June 27, 2019
But why was this even started in the first place? The city just won a title, exercise for children is a big push across the world and all parents are fighting with their kids to put down the video game controller and get outside and play. So why discourage them by adding barriers that deter this movement?
According to media across the city, the decision to remove the hoops was due to a combination of vandalism and noise complaints. Yet, according to some, this isn’t something new as the city has been doing this for a while as a method of fighting against drug dealers and the bad crowds from doing their dirty around the courts.
That’s understandable as it’s a practice that’s occurred in every major city. We’ve witnessed it in Black and Brown communities across New York in places like Harlem and Bed-Stuy, where the wrong element sometimes gathers at the open spaces that often surround the courts.
But that, in itself, is a huge problem as that action overtly reeks of racial policing/profiling. How many times have we seen drug deals go down in public parks on the east side, but benches, jungle gyms, and hoops are not removed from there?
Newly crowned king of basketball operations for Toronto, Masai Ujiri, was livid when he heard about the decision to remove the hoops.
“We’ll take those courts to Africa. We’ll build them somewhere else.” said the Raptors’ President of Basketball Operations. “I don’t know what the details of this is, but my first reaction is anywhere there’s a basketball court it’s a good thing. Kids play basketball, and it’s my job, so I’m going to be biased towards basketball however it’s played, anywhere it’s played, whether it’s the noisiest place or the most quiet place, I’m just going to be biased about a basketball court being put anywhere.”
Exactly. Basketball should be available to everyone, especially in Toronto where the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy resides.
While there are arguments on both sides, the optics behind this decision are horrible, especially considering the timing of the Raptors win and what it meant to the city. Officials should want to work with communities to create more access to courts, not restrict it.
Wouldn’t you want more kids in Toronto practicing on those courts, dreams of representing the city in the NBA building with every dribble and shot?
It’s a bad shot by the city that needed to be Mutombo-swatted out of bounds.