Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers and team governor Steve Ballmer talked with Trevor Noah tonight on the Daily Social Distancing Show, revealing that the players and owners of the various teams will be working together to influence legislation and increase voter registration.
Asked why the work strike occurred, Rivers said, “The players literally need to take a breath. Like I said earlier, it’s not lost on me that George Floyd was never afforded to take that breath. But our players did. In doing that, they were able to refocus and come up with tangible things that they wanted to do.”
Rivers blamed the isolation of the National Basketball Assn.’s “bubble” environment in Orlando for how the players reacted to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“Because usually when something like this happens, you’re with your families, you can comfort your kids and try to explain what’s going on in America or in that city,” Rivers said. “They were not able to do that.” He added, “The players don’t feel it or see it. They don’t know exactly what’s going on.”
Asked whether he felt it was a burden to have to come up with an overall solution to racism on the fly, Ballmer admitted, “I think about it a little bit different. I don’t know how to speak to the whole, but we have players, people like me who are citizens, and getting out there, using our voices, supporting, that’s the American way.
“You get out, you have people proposing bills like the Justice and Policing Act, the George Floyd Bill, great. There’s a lot of good stuff in it. Let’s make sure that the House and the Senate come together. I’m just a citizen on this one. I have something of a voice. Our players even have a louder voice, and you know, that happens. That’s not about basketball. That’s about democracy.”
Ballmer said he and Rivers had a “great” meeting with the team. “I don’t have the experience of growing up Black in the United States. The whole fear of the police stops, what those mean, where they go, and the importance of really being able to have higher levels of accountability so that is the system and an approach that works fairly for all Americans.” He cited mentorship programs and teachers as having the most influence on the situation.
As to the shut up and dribble argument that some have made about the players strike, Rivers denied the premise.
“First of all, we’re playing the games. We’re doing our job. More importantly, politics are a part of our daily lives, and so, if you don’t get involved with it, it’s going to get involved with you. Also, some of these are human rights issues. You know, I think we think human rights issues are politics, and it’s not. What’s right and what’s wrong, and we should all speak up. And our players have decided it’s not our burden to do everything, right? But it’s our responsibility to get involved because we want to. And there’s nothing wrong with that, and I love that our guys are doing it and I think they’re doing it in a sensational way.”
Ballmer promised that players and owners together would get arenas involved in voter registration and voter suppression issues, “all these things. We’re also going to form a group with this coalition to fight just single things. The George Floyd bill, it’s on the House, just passed through the House. It will probably sit there for a while, but that’s where voting comes in.”