Opinion

This NBA owner gave other owners a lesson in how to handle protests

Sacramento Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive, left, in 2015.
Sacramento Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive, left, in 2015. AP Photo

Before the Sacramento Kings game Thursday night against the visiting Atlanta Hawks, a crowd gathered in front of the Golden 1 Center to protest the police shooting that resulted in the death of a local black man, Stephon Clark. The protest delayed the game's tip-off and forced team officials to close the arena's doors.

After the game, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive did something that no other professional sports owner has done. He grabbed a microphone, went out onto the court with his players, and he talked to the crowd.

"First of all," Ranadive said, "I want to express our deepest sympathies to the family."

Then he also said this: "We at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform. It's a privilege but it's also a responsibility. It's a responsibility we take very seriously. And we stand here before you - all young, black, white, brown - and we are all united in our commitment.

"We're going to work really hard as a community, and we're going to work really hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again."

It was a simple statement - and an important gesture. An owner, standing with his players, recognizing a problem that troubles them deeply. Imagine if NFL owners had done the same before games last season after players began to kneel at the national anthem.

Instead we had an owner comparing players to "inmates running the prison."

We had owners cracking down on protests, banning them or diminishing them as "politicizing the game."

Now, we have NFL star Eric Reid getting a cold shoulder in free agency despite being the kind of player and person in the community that NFL teams should celebrate.

Much of which could have been avoided if owners had done what Ranadive did Thursday. He stood with his players. He recognized pain in his community. It was simple, proactive and powerful.

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