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Garrett Temple: Choice isn’t between playing and racial justice, so get the money

Nets guards Garrett Temple and Kyrie Irving

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 14: Garrett Temple #17 and Kyrie Irving #11 high five each other during the game against the Denver Nuggets on November 14, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Some NBA players have expressed discomfort about playing before racial injustice is addressed.

Nets guard and National Basketball Players Associate Vice President Garrett Temple, via Malika Andrews of ESPN:

“The difference in the economic gap between white America and black America is astronomical,” Temple said. “I can’t in good conscience tell my brethren to throw away millions of dollars in order to create change that I don’t see the direct impact of -- if there was a direct impact of laws changing, that would be a different story.”
“So, when people bring up not playing -- we are a few black men that can make a little bit of money,” Temple said. “It is not a lot of money when think about it in the grand scheme of America. But we can start having a little bit of money, create a little bit of generational wealth.”

There are so many interesting interpersonal dynamics, before even addressing main issue. Another Nets guard and National Basketball Players Associate Vice President, Kyrie Irving, is reportedly leading the players resistant to returning. Another Brooklyn star, Kevin Durant, was among the players united on returning.

Ultimately, Temple is right. The money is significant, including to the NBA’s predominantly black player pool.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports summarized the concerns of some players as about playing to “ease the league’s economic burden.” But in this case, the league isn’t just owners. Owners and players split revenue about 50-50. The more money the NBA makes, the more money NBA players make. There is a direct correlation specified through the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Irving has already gotten rich. Irving is in the first season of a max contract. Irving is out for the rest of the season.

I don’t doubt his sincerity in caring about racial justice. But he also ought to consider that canceling the season would mean reducing black wealth.

Black people – even NBA players with all their money and influence – can’t unilaterally end systematic racism. The onus is on white people who control the system. We should all work for change.

In the meantime, NBA players – who are mostly black, have earned their high salaries and face short careers – should cash in as much as they can while they can.