As the NBA tips off another season, be mindful you don’t piss them off.
Upsetting some of the world’s most overpaid athletes is becoming increasingly more unacceptable in a league becoming more and more like Communist China.
They want to control the message, and that includes words and phrases that don’t conform to their standard of acceptance.
While there’s clearly no place in any arena or stadium for racial remarks – whether directed at fans or players – the NBA is now making it clear there’s repercussions for fans who say something that may hurt or upset their feelings.
Last month, Adam Silver and his corporate minions devised a new fan code of conduct with some very broad standards for what they deem to be acceptable behavior.
First and foremost came this misconstrued line: “Players and fans respect and appreciate each other.”
Can you devise any more of a blurred line than this one?
A disrespecting gesture. An unappreciative tone.
Good luck trying to narrow down the standard of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Here’s what Jerome Pickett, the NBA’s executive VP and chief security officer had to say about the situation.
“We’ve added any sexist language or LGBTQ language, any denigrating language in that way, anything that is non-basketball related. So ‘your mother’ comments, talking about your family, talking about test scores, anything non-basketball-related, we’ve added that in as well as being something that we will go and pull a fan out of the seat and investigate what happened.”
By all means, you shouldn’t have to take your child to an arena and subject him or her to dialogue normally reserved for an R-rated movie.
But where do we draw the line with sexist language? Telling Lonzo Ball that he shoots like a girl?
Any denigrating language that is non-basketball related?
It’s not that the league is as concerned so much with what players say to each other on the court, but the NBA now wants to crack down on what fans utter to their athletes. Keep in mind, you won’t find a single game where players don’t swap disparaging and denigrating remarks to one another, but now trash talking is becoming a one-lane road where players have every right to get in each other’s face and yell their own obscenities.
The league admits that fan interaction has gone from intimidating to unacceptable to what is now abusive.
As a result, fans will be removed from their seats while the incident is investigated and season ticket holders risk losing their seats. If the players were held to these same standards, they wouldn’t have anyone left to finish a game.
The idea that any player can be offended at any time is not that much different than a pedestrian being triggered by the site of a red, MAGA hat wearing Trump supporter simply because they see or hear something they may disapprove of.
Ultimately, the true test as it pertains to how freedom of speech is exercised in our country is the willingness to embrace speech you don’t agree with or don’t approve of. While you may think there’s a standard of what’s appropriate behavior in society, the level of acceptance would resemble a needle on a polygraph test.
In their quest to silence what you say, the NBA is sending out a much bigger message.
They’ll shut down anything they deem to be unacceptable.
Nowhere was this more obvious than during the league’s most recent China debacle when Lebron James called upon Silver and the NBA to punish Rockets GM Daryl Morey for a tweet supporting protestors in Hong Kong in their fight for freedom and liberty.
James labeled Morey “uneducated” while pushing the belief “there’s a lot of negative” that comes with freedom of speech. The negativity as Lebron views it comes with the potential of losing out on millions with his Nike brand in the Chinese market.
LeBron James on Houston Rockets' GM Daryl Morey advocating for freedom for Hong Kong: "I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke ... Even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech there can be a lot of negative that comes with that"pic.twitter.com/RwmEassnwj— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 15, 2019
The Lakers star can exercise his first amendment rights and outwardly voice his resentment towards the Trump administration, but God forbid anyone express an opinion that doesn’t conform to King James’s greater good.
To that end, it’s almost unconceivable that a fan was removed from a Sixers preseason game recently for yelling “Free Hong Kong!”
But it happened!
Yes, we’re living in dangerous times.
Not because of the fight for freedom that’s taking place halfway around the world.
But because we have an organization like the NBA that believes believes that the most basic freedom – as spelled out in the Constitution – is no longer worth fighting for.