The Utah Jazz player wrote a personal op-ed, entailing how he struggled with white privilege and equality that black players faced.
With the recent news about the altercation that involved Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook and a Utah Jazz fan in March, the debate around racism in NBA found itself refreshed. An NBA veteran described two incidents involving black players in the NBA that made him reflect on racism and his own privilege.
I've been trying to write this for a while. https://t.co/Qkt8aoVtdE— Kyle Korver (@KyleKorver) 8 April 2019
The NBA veteran detailed in his op-ed, that he wrote on Monday for The Player’s Tribune titled “Privileged”, how he'd been naïve to the strife that black players go through on and off the court. He admitted how he was on the wrong side of the argument when Thabo Sefolosha - his current teammate on the Jazz and former teammate on the Hawks – was assaulted by the NYPD during an arrest on April 8, 2015.
The arrest resulted in a fractured fibula for Sefolosha and ligament damage and led to the end of Sefolosha's season that year.
“Anyway — on the morning I found out that Thabo had been arrested, want to know what my first thought was?” Korver wrote. “About my friend and teammate? My first thought was: What was Thabo doing out at a club on a back-to-back??”
Korver revealed he felt as though he let Sefolosha and himself down because he was so quick to point the finger at his friend and teammate.
“I know that, as a white man, I have to hold my fellow white men accountable,” Korver wrote in conclusion. “We all have to hold each other accountable. …And it’s about understanding that Black Lives Matter, and movements like it, matter..." Kyle Korver https://t.co/V9q1GzVUqC— EBONY MAGAZINE (@EBONYMag) 8 April 2019
He continued, “Yeah. Not, How’s he doing? Not, What happened during the arrest?? Not, Something seems off with this story. Nothing like that. Before I knew the full story, and before I’d even had the chance to talk to Thabo….. I sort of blamed Thabo.”
Korver also said he cringed at the thought of putting himself in Sefolosha's shoes at the club that night.
"The police wouldn't have arrested me. Not unless I was doing something wrong," he said, summing up his feeling at that realization in one word: "Cringe."
Utah Jazz Guard Kyle Korver Says White People Need To Hold One Another Accountable For Racism: “I Know That, As A White Man, I Have To Hold My Fellow White Men Accountable” https://t.co/ZOCcqhUQ5S pic.twitter.com/jtOt3jC0U3— BallerAlert (@balleralert) 9 April 2019
Korver opened up about his White privilege when he discussed Russell Westbrook’s incident with a Utah Jazz fan in March, in which the Oklahoma City star alleged that a now-banned fan yelled racially charged things at him.
The fan had allegedly told the NBA star "to get down on your knees like you're used to."
The fan "had said some really ugly things at close range to Russ. Russ had then responded ... he'd said he felt the (fan's) comments were racially charged," Korver wrote.
Things get heated between Russell Westbrook and Utah Jazz fans again. “I’ll f*ck you up. You and your wife,” he says. Not sure what these fans said to him, but he also had issues with Jazz fans during the postseason. pic.twitter.com/LquwRmLVNy— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) 12 March 2019
Korver revealed that the Jazz team had a meeting about the Westbrook incident and many of them shared similar stories of grief when dealing with the constant racism in the NBA. He said his teammates including Sefolosha appeared to be “embarrassed” and “tired” of how little is done to protect them as players.
"My teammates shared stories of similar experiences they'd had -- of feeling degraded in ways that went beyond acceptable heckling."
"It was almost like..... disappointment, mixed with exhaustion. Guys were just sick and tired of it all," Korver wrote.
Fans can say shit about a mans family, wife, & kids.. Tell a player “Get down on your knees like your use to.” As men, what do you expect us to do? Shut up & dribble? No one is held accountable for their actions except for us. Fans are protected in every way possible but not us.— Patrick Patterson (@pdpatt) 12 March 2019
"This wasn't the first time they'd taken part in conversations about race in their NBA careers, and it wasn't the first time they'd had to address the hateful actions of others. ...This wasn't only about Russ and some heckler. It was about more than that. ... It was about racism in America," Korver wrote.
Later in the article, Korver wrote: "Let's face it: I probably would've been safe on the street that one night in New York. And Thabo wasn't. And I was safe on the court that one night in Utah. And Russell wasn't."
Korver added that white people are not "guilty of the sins of our forefathers," but are, he believes, "responsible for them."
"It's not about guilt. It's not about pointing fingers or passing blame. It's about responsibility," Korver wrote.
"This feels like a moment to draw a line in the sand," he wrote.
"I believe that what's happening to people of color in this country -- right now, in 2019 -- is wrong."