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The Authority with Dr. Sanford Richmond

May 16, 2019

On this episode of The Authority I discuss the new era of leadership in the NBA under commissioner Adam Silver. I compare Silver’s leadership with his predecessor David Stern and the contrast of how they treated their players in a league which comprised of a black male majority. Silver by many accounts appeared to treat NBA players like partners and Stern by the observation of many appeared to treat NBA players like subordinates…some would argue (like me) like slaves. Stern had a reputation of running the NBA with an iron fist in which he stifled freedom of speech and expression. Silver seems to be more egalitarian in his approach in how he treats the players of the NBA. Also, and more importantly, Silver appears to allow his black players to express themselves socially and politically unlike any era in NBA history, including and especially the era of David Stern.

NBA superstars Lebron James, Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant and coach Gregg Popovich alongside many other NBA figures seem to be on the frontline of the racial resistance in America regarding their social and political justice views alongside unapologetically attacking the repressive and oppressive policies and opinions of President Donald Trump. The question I ask on this episode is…would this freedom of expression and speech happen under Stern?

Would Stern allow this freedom of political expression and speech…or would he stifle it like he did in 1996 with Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) in which Abdul-Rauf refused to come out of the locker room during the national anthem because he felt the song and the flag represented a “symbol of oppression?” Instead of allowing Abdul-Rauf to express himself Stern fined him nearly $32,000 and suspended him a game.

If Stern was still commissioner would he allow his players to express themselves freely in this era of hyper racial consciousness…or does he maintain his rules of restriction, censorship and punishment? I dive into this hypothetical with national scholar on race, sports and popular culture Dr. David Leonard. He is a leading authority on race and sports in America with most of his expertise focused on the issue of race and race relations in the NBA. Leonard also wrote a book some years back focused on Stern’s controversial leadership titled After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness. You’re going to want to hear what he has to say! Enjoy the show!!