One of the main concerns that almost stopped the NBA season from resuming in Orlando was the belief that the sport would become a distraction from important social issues, namely the Black Lives Matter movement and nationwide protests due to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other innocent Black people.
Through pressure from its players, the NBA and the 22 organizations in Orlando for the bubble have attempted to shine light on these issues. Players have been vocal about justice for Taylor, whose killers have still not been arrested, and some are wearing messages of support on their jerseys in place of their names.
On Wednesday, Frank Vogel was asked by Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen and Roll about what he and the organization have continued to do following a video put out by the coaching staff declaring their support for the BLM movement.
Vogel’s response, via Faigen:
“Our whole organization has really been aggressive with action items. I think most notable, hiring Dr. Karida Brown as an educator to come in and assess our organization, and just make sure that we’re creating the right change within our own organization. Because I think this is where this problem needs to be tackled more than anywhere, is for everyone across the country to look within. How are their behaviors and viewpoints, and how can they change? So we want to be very vocal on it. I know we’re doing some things with the coaches association as well to keep the conversation going because we fully, fully, fully support the Black Lives Matter movement. I feel like we as a country have never been in a (better) position of strength to affect change than we’re in right now, so it’s a critical time for sure.”
Of course, many of the gestures by the league are largely symbolic and we need to do much, much more to actually drive any change in our communities and in our country. There is a long road to go but Vogel is right in that this feels like a crossroads where more and more people are becoming understanding of the Black struggle and taking action to support their seeking of justice.
Vogel is one of the many white coaches managing mostly Black players in the NBA and while that disproportionate ratio of people in powerful positions in the NBA is an issue, it does mean that Vogel’s voice as an ally is crucial, the same way that Alex Caruso wearing “Black Lives Matter” on his jersey can be an inspiring moment for kids watching at home.
It’s good to hear that the Lakers are taking actions beyond symbolic gestures and I personally hope to hear more about what they’re doing to enact changes in their organization and inspire changes on the outside.