Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala made headlines last week when he referred to racially sensitive terms.
“Anything else?,” Iguodala asked the media when expounding on an answer after a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. “Ummm, what would [a] dumb n-gga say? Just play harder. Figure it out. Change gone come. Ain’t that what we used to say? Change gone come.”
Iguodala continued answering questions in his postgame availability with US slavery-period references.
“We taking tomorrow off?,” Iguodala asked a reporter that informed him that head coach Steve Kerr planned to sit four Warriors stars against the San Antonio Spurs on March 11. “[I had] no clue. Do what master say.”
The NBA fined Iguodala $10K for using the n-word multiple times during his availability and he later clarified to the media that he was using an inside joke the Warriors’ locker room shared. However, the comments still sparked a conversation — a conversation many held before in regards to Black athletes in professional sports. Debates surrounding the lack of diversity in corporate positions of sports franchises compared to the color of the athlete bringing in the most revenue for the team resurfaced.
Recently, I had my own sports and race discussion with some colleagues of all races in an office. A white co-worker defended the current structure of sports for about 15 minutes before admitting they believe Blacks represent athletes more because they’re naturally better at being athletes, while whites are represented more on the corporate side, because they’re historically better in the world of business.
Although my colleague’s statement mirrored something character Rose’s brother Jeremy in the movie Get Out would say, it highlights the importance of having these discussions more often in sports. Discomfort and discussion are two ways both sides of a conflict can reach an understanding.
“$110 million. I’m not sure how many slaves were paid that back in the day; that’s just my opinion,” ESPN host Sage Steele said in response to Iguodala’s comments.
Inside joke or not, Iguodala, the Bennett brothers, sports columnist William C. Rhoden, and the many other athletes want the outside observer of sports to understand the problems of race in America aren’t limited to millionaire celebrities. If anything, it only highlights and intensifies the issues even more. It highlights the moments when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert writes a mean-spirited public letter about his star forward LeBron James deciding to leave the team in 2010. It highlights the moments when Atlanta Hawks management have to constantly apologize and discipline the organizations’ people in power for saying the game atmosphere appeals too much to the Black demographic or they understand the frustration from fans because they have Black wives. Hopefully, athletes will continue to create these uncomfortable moments until they feel the adequate amount of progress has been made.