Some NBA franchises are discussing moving away from the term “owner” for describing who has a controlling stake in the team to avoid dredging up analogies to slavery.
“We’re told the conversations essentially center around the idea that the term, owner — in a league where the majority of the players are black — feels racially insensitive,” TMZ Sports reported.
Those conversations are apparently connected to an episode of LeBron James’ HBO show “The Shop” from 2018, in which Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green said, “You shouldn’t say owner.”
Comedian Jon Stewart was also a part of that episode and agreed with Green’s point.
“When your product is purely the labor of people then owner sounds like something that is of a feudal nature,” Stewart said.
A sports team’s owner does not technically “own” its employees, but it does own the company, the rights to its name, its logo, its marketing and often the arena it plays in.
Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 and was referred to as the team’s owner for a few years, but the team’s website started listing him last year as its chairman, TMZ Sports said.
It is hardly the first time professional athletes have been compared to slaves. Former New York Times sports columnist William Rhoden wrote a book in 2006 called “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete.”
And during the height of the Colin Kaepernick controversy, when he was criticized for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality, some found it appropriate to compare NFL owners to slavedrivers. Cornerback Richard Sherman said just last year that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had “an old plantation mentality.”
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