Having realized that their attempt to turn the NBA into Racial Justice Central did not appeal to fans of the sport, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said this week that the “Black Lives Matter” messages and the rest of the social justice nonsense that plagued the 2020 season will likely be left out of the league when the NBA returns next year.
While the racial messages were not solely responsible for the cratering ratings that the NBA faced this year – many fans found the empty arenas unbearably weird as well – they certainly had an enormous impact on the season’s popularity. Not only was the “bubble” court at Disney painted with “Black Lives Matter” on the floor but players wore slogans and names on their jerseys that related to the BLM movement. Many fans felt pummeled by the nonstop politics, and they chose to watch something else instead.
“The messages agreed upon by the National Basketball Players Association and the NBA are: Black Lives Matter, Say Their Names, Vote, I Can’t Breathe, Justice, Peace, Equality, Freedom, Enough, Power to the People, Justice Now, Say Her Name, Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can), Liberation, See Us, Hear Us, Respect Us, Love Us, Listen, Listen to Us, Stand Up, Ally, Anti-Racist, I Am A Man, Speak Up, How Many More, Group Economics, Education Reform and Mentor,” reported ESPN prior to the beginning of the season.
It was just too much for some fans. The NBA Finals, a contest between the L.A. Lakers and the Miami Heat drew fewer viewers than any championship games in the league’s modern history.
In an interview with NBA Countdown this week, Silver appeared to finally realize that the league couldn’t afford to keep going in this direction.
“We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality and that’s been the case going back decades. It’s part of the DNA of this league. How it gets manifested is something we’re gonna have to sit down with the players and discuss for next season,” Silver said.
“I would say, in terms of the messages you see on the court and our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began these discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer,” he continued. “My sense is there’ll be somewhat a return to normalcy, that those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game,’”
We’ll see if the NFL – currently experiencing a similar plummet in ratings – will see their way towards the same realization.