Nash Offers Thoughts on NBA Protests

Member of UVM Men’s Basketball program and Vermont Racial Justice Alliance lends his perspective on boycotts
Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 7:25 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It was an unusual scene that has become all too familiar here in 2020, as sporting events around the country were canceled on Wednesday. But this time, it had nothing to do with COVID-19.

The Milwaukee Bucks led the way, deciding they would not play in Game 5 of their first round playoff series against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. According to a report from ESPN, the Bucks spoke with Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor and attorney general to try and determine the best way to respond to Sunday’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, a city just over 30 miles from Milwaukee. The team ultimately decided that refusing to play would bring the most attention to their call for racial justice. Specifically, the team called upon the Wisconsin state legislature to reconvene and vote on a police reform bill proposed by Wisconsin’s governor.

The Magic and all four other teams slated to play Wednesday joined the Bucks in protest, and while the playoffs will resume at some point, Thursday’s games have also been postponed. WNBA, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer games were also postponed Wednesday following the Bucks’ lead, and several other contests scheduled for Thursday have been postponed in MLB and the NHL.

On Thursday, we spoke with Skyler Nash, a member of the men’s basketball program at UVM and the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance. He says there are two primary reasons the Bucks and other athletes decided to take this step.

“It’s important because you’re not allowing yourself to be used as an outlet anymore,” Nash said of his own personal experience as a former basketball player. “I know as a black athlete that’s something that can weigh on you that some people who may not really believe that your life matters are going to use you and your sport as an escape from what’s going on. And that’s a really heavy burden to bear.”

“But beyond all that, especially when it comes to the NBA, it was important for them not to play because you’re hitting at the money that goes around,” Nash added. “And not just a small amount of money, tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. And that’s when, you know, these greater forces at hand are really going to start to pay attention and mobilize. That was the biggest leverage they have, when you think about the playoffs. And it reminds me of going back to the 1991 finals when Craig Hodges tried to get the Lakers and the Bulls to protest the Finals because of the Rodney King beating. And had they done that, what place would we be in right now? We don’t know. And so we might not see the full impact of what they did yesterday immediately, but five, ten, twenty years down the line I think we’ll look at that as a really important moment in this movement as we go forward.”

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