What Will the Warriors Do?

Steve Kerr tipped the Warriors hand when he came out last week and called “disgusting” the police shootings of unarmed black men, a narrative that stained the summer with tragedy and outrage. Kerr then reaffirmed the right of Colin Kapernick, who began the protest/athlete movement in August. Although Kerr was non-committal about his players protesting- he didn’t do as Jim Harbaugh (U. of Michigan) and Dab Sweeney (Clemson) or Mike Ditka and verbal punish those protesting- Kerr saw both sides, the need to make a stand about a serious issue and the pride of patriotism.

Kerr’s players then took the torch and ran with it.

The Warriors play the first preseason game on the NBA schedule. They will play the Raptors in Vancouver on Saturday night. And protest is definitely on the table.

“There is a 100% chance there will be a conversation” Steph Curry said. That may include a kneel for the anthem, a gesture of solidarity, an apparel slogan. Curry went on to say how much he respects the flag and the national anthem and on many occasions has worked with the military. Patriotism and pride has meaning within his family. “But there will be a conversation with my teammates, whether we find a way to have a unified gesture or stance, maybe not during the national anthem but something.”

Unbeknownst to Colin Kapernick when he began his lone protest almost two months ago, the sentiment of despair and change has quickly spread from coast to coast despite the misinformation and resistance, the threats of lynching the protesters, the fan backlash. High school and college athletes, as well as professional athletes, have felt the need to voice their solidarity in marking this very important line in the sand.

Andre Iguodala, a Kapernick supporter as most of the Warriors are, said his son wore Kapernick’s jersey to school. “He understands what Kapernick is trying to say. The problem is no one wants to accept what he is saying. They want to be blind to the fact that we are treated this way.”

Though controversial and non-conformist, it’s hard to imagine any kind of Warriors backlash if they do indeed protest. The Warriors are the most popular team in the league with Curry as the face of this modern space the floor three point shot nirvana. Furthermore, the Warriors play in heavily African American populated Oakland who had their own high profile police shooting on New Years Day 2009 when Oscar Grant was killed by Bart policeman Johannes Mehserle. Grant was on the ground, handcuffed when Mehserle shot him. Grant died. Oakland began protesting. After the trial, Mehserle was sentenced for a measly two years, more protesting followed. So what is new to the country is not new to Oakland.

But what about the rest of the league? Will NBA players have to face what the University of Nebraska players faced when they protested this past Saturday? Michael Rose-Ivey, Moahmmed Berry and DaiShon Neal were threatened with lynching and murder by their own fans because they took a knee.

Warriors newcomer David West said, “I don’t think anyone should feel compelled (to protest) one way or the other. Particularly don’t feel pressure to do it because other guys are doing it. Be personally convicted.

“We’ve got to look at ourselves and ask whether folks are capable of treating other people like human beings. That’s a fundamental question we have to ask before we get to the color of your skin. Do people have the capability to recognize humanity in other people? When you shoot someone with their hands up, you should feel that. When you’re choking someone to death and you have your arm around their neck and they say “I can’t breathe” you should be able to feel that s____. And if you can’t feel that s____, I’m wondering if you have the capacity to recognize humanity.”

Adding another layer besides the obvious racial denouement, Steph Curry grew up in Charlotte, the latest city to be torn apart by police aggression when police de-escalation could have served the greater community. For Curry, it’s hard watching the city he loves come apart and there is pride in watching the city he loves come back together, connected by a common cause.

Draymond Green was particularly insightful when he said, “But my question is ‘What’s next? Where do people take action?’ Now the conversation is started.”

On Saturday, the Warriors will have their turn.

photo via llananba