OAKLAND -- As much as they enjoy basketball and winning games and entertaining fans, most of the players on the Warriors are willing to remind us they also happen to be acutely aware of life beyond the court.
That’s why their unhappiness with KGO-TV sports anchor Mike Shumann doesn’t begin to match their annoyance with attempts to downplay or rationalize his surreptitious behavior that, incidentally, was caught on video.
Shumann, the former 49ers receiver who has been with KGO since 1994, was in San Antonio last week to provide coverage of the Warriors-Spurs playoff series. He was captured on video after practice last Thursday bending over, picking up a jacket, folding it and walking out of AT&T Center. The jacket, it was later, confirmed, belonged to Warriors security manager Ralph Walker, who had not given Shumann permission to take it.
Approached about the incident, Shumann returned the jacket, apologized and also tried to explain his actions, essentially saying he wasn’t thinking clearly.
Insofar as Shumann is a Disney Company employee -- Disney owns ABC and ESPN -- the matter put the Warriors organization in a compromised position. Disney’s contract with the NBA gives ABC affiliates exclusive access on specific telecasts, something the Warriors take seriously. In their attempt to control the damage and preserve status quo with Shumann, they wanted to consider the matter a benign misunderstanding.
As in, he’s a good guy that made a mistake.
The players were not in such a forgiving mood. They urged that action be taken, partly out of loyalty to Walker but largely because of their belief the incident would not have been taken so lightly likely if the jacket had been removed by a person of color.
They smelled a double standard. And while some surely would argue against that, the players have centuries of American history to support their theory. Recent events have unfolded to have that theory reaffirmed.
The Warriors are aware of various social/ethnic inequalities that go unpunished. It’s why some speak out.
They are aware that two black men were handcuffed and taken out of a Philadelphia Starbucks because they’d asked to use the bathroom before buying anything. This was the extent of their “wrongdoing” while awaiting a business meeting.
They are aware that white gunman Dylann Roof unloaded his clip on black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015, killing nine, and was taken by police to a fast-food restaurant for a snack on the way to jail.
They are aware that a black woman in Alabama, after demanding the phone number of a Waffle House district manager, was tossed to the ground by two white police officers who claimed she dropped an f-bomb.
This occurred hours apart from a shooting at a Tennessee Waffle House, where a white man used an assault rifle to kill four people of color before he was disarmed and forced to flee. It was later reported that the man had gone on a racist rant and threatened black customers in a grocery store without police intervention.
And of course they know the Parkland, Fla. school shooter, a white man who killed 17 with an assault rifle, was captured alive while unarmed Stephon Clark, in Sacramento, killed no one yet was felled by a fusillade of bullets while in his grandmother’s backyard.
It’s hard to know all of this and then fall in line with the contention that Shumann’s actions should be dismissed because, hey, he apologized.
While Shumann’s transgression can’t be considered a serious crime, it most assuredly is a serious breach of protocol.
I’ve been professionally acquainted with Mike for years and had never formed an opinion of his character. I heard what had happened, followed up with a few people and became aware of how the team felt. I saw the video and considered it bizarre behavior on his part.
Maybe that’s all it is. Or maybe there is some medical or psychological explanation.
Some Warriors were merely bothered by the entire episode, others were outraged -- mostly about the attempt to bury it. With social consciousness on the rise in this country, and white privilege being acknowledged as real, the timing of Shumann’s behavior left him exposed to significant backlash.
Double standards beget unrest. Look around and it’s hard to miss. Though the Warriors may not be militant or demonstrative, they are awake enough to see the world as it is and pursue a greater fairness. That’s what they’re seeking.