NBA legend Isiah Thomas on Friday implored all Americans to do extra to fight racial injustice, pointing to the wave of protests this week from skilled athletes as inspiration.
“We’ve been waiting for centuries now for us to have this conversation about the oppressive … system that Blacks are forced to live under in this country,” Thomas mentioned on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “What I see that’s happening in our country is eerily very similar to what we were marching and fighting against back in the ’60s, the ’50s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s and now into the 2000s.”
Thomas, a two-time NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, famous that his feedback Friday got here on the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington in 1963, the place Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
Then, as now, Thomas mentioned demonstrators are merely asking: “Let us have an equal opportunity in terms of the American dream.”
The motion for racial justice that’s sweeping the U.S. this summer time — sparked in May by the loss of life of George Floyd in Minneapolis and once more this week by the police taking pictures of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin — is grassroots, Thomas mentioned.
“This is an organic uprising of all different classified races and colors out in the streets, marching and protesting, saying we want a better America for all, not just for one classified class of people,” he mentioned.
Thomas cheered the choice by skilled athletes this week to protest the taking pictures of Blake by sitting out video games. It began Wednesday with the Milwaukee Bucks, who selected not to play their first-round playoff recreation in opposition to the Orlando Magic, and unfold rapidly to different leagues such because the WNBA and MLB.
“I think it’s been a historical moment for social justice and also in sport,” mentioned Thomas, who complimented the gamers and leagues for utilizing their platforms to “get America’s attention to say, ‘Hey, what is happening is wrong here.'”
Thomas, who grew up poor on Chicago’s West Side and has turn out to be an lively businessman after his NBA profession, pushed again on individuals who have criticized the protests in sports activities.
On Thursday, for instance, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner advised CNBC, “I think that the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially.”
Thomas responded by saying: “The NBA players are fortunate. The NFL players are fortunate economically because they can afford to lose money but to bring voice to the voiceless. That’s what this is all about, in terms of sports and entertainment.” He added that Black skilled athletes and their households are usually not one way or the other immune to racism and police brutality.
“So what has been termed a night off was really a work stoppage and a boycott to bring attention to what is happening in our America. And when I say our America, I’m talking Black and White,” Thomas mentioned. “First we are all Americans and then we are put down into these racial categories of Black and White. But first we are Americans.”