The Guardian, Sports | April 8, 2019
LeBron James has praised his former teammate Kyle Korver for an essay he published on the subject of white privilege.
The veteran Utah Jazz player, who was a teammate of James on the Cleveland Cavaliers, wrote an article for the Players’ Tribune after reflecting on two incidents in recent years. His friend and teammate Thabo Sefolosha had his leg broken during an arrest outside a nightclub in 2015, and was later found not guilty of any crime. This year Russell Westbrook was the subject of racist invective from a fan at a Jazz game – the fan was later banned by Utah for life.
Korver, who is white, said he was “embarrassed” by his reaction to both incidents. He initially wondered why Sefolosha was at a nightclub during the season, and partly attributed the abuse of Westbrook to the player’s fiery nature.
The 38-year-old said that, unlike Westbrook and Sefolosha, he does not need to worry he will be the victim of discrimination.
The silence over the Thabo Sefolosha trial is deafening … and mystifying | READ MORE
“What I’m realizing is, no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color … I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it,” he wrote. “Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice – I’m granted that privilege – based on the color of my skin.”
Korver said that in a league that is 75% black, he is often seen as a symbol for some white fans – and suggests he is uncomfortable with that tag.
“I know I’m in a strange position, as one of the more recognized white players in the NBA. It’s a position that comes with a lot of … interesting undertones,” he wrote. “This feels like a moment to draw a line in the sand. I believe that what’s happening to people of color in this country – right now, in 2019 – is wrong.
“The fact that black Americans are more than five times as likely to be incarcerated as white Americans is wrong. The fact that black Americans are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as white Americans is wrong. The fact that black unemployment rates nationally are double that of overall unemployment rates is wrong. The fact that black imprisonment rates for drug charges are almost six times higher nationally than white imprisonment rates for drug charges is wrong. The fact that black Americans own approximately one-tenth of the wealth that white Americans own is wrong.
“And I believe it’s the responsibility of anyone on the privileged end of those inequalities to help make things right. So if you don’t want to know anything about me, outside of basketball, then listen — I get it. But if you do want to know something? Know I believe that.”
James welcomed the article on Twitter. “Salute my brother!! Means a lot,” he wrote. “And like you said I hope people listen, just open your ears and listen.” Korver’s Utah teammate, Donovan Mitchell, also gave his thoughts. “This is amazing!! I’m honored to have you as my teammate and my brother!! Folks please read and inform yourselves,” wrote Mitchell on Twitter.