The Miami Heat took advantage of a moment of silence the NBA observed Wednesday in honor of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting victims to promote anti-gun legislation.
“The Heat Organization, the Boston Celtics and the NBA family also mourn those who lost their lives in the senseless shooting that took place yesterday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas,” the stadium announcer began ahead of an Eastern Conference Finals game between the Heat and Boston Celtics at FTX Arena in Miami.
Nineteen children and two adults were shot to death on Tuesday when an 18-year-old gunman staged a massacre at the school.
“Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends, and the entire Robb Elementary School and Uvalde community,” the announcer said.
“Our hope is that the families, friends, co-workers and loved ones of all those impacted by this tragedy will find the comfort and strength they need as they carry on in honor of those whose lives were lost,” he said before asking everyone at the venue to observe a moment of silence in honor of the deceased.
After thanking everyone for joining the NBA in observing the moment of silence, things took a political turn.
“The Heat urges you to contact your state’s senators by calling 202-224-3121 to leave a message demanding their support for common-sense gun laws,” the announcer said, providing the number of the switchboard at the U.S. Capitol.
“You can also make change at the ballot box. Visit Heat.com/vote to register and let your voice be heard this fall,” he said.
A moment of silence. pic.twitter.com/8Ycn1uqN0i
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 26, 2022
The Dallas Mavericks also observed a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting in Uvalde before their Western Conference Finals game against the Golden State Warriors.
Tonight we held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives in multiple tragedies in TX.
We play tonight’s game for Coach Michael Coyne, who lost his life on Sunday returning home from our game, & the victims of the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. pic.twitter.com/cqMF5RoMbW
— x – Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) May 25, 2022
“When are we going to do something?” Kerr said. “I’m tired — I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there. I’m so tired. Excuse me. I’m sorry. I’m tired of moments of silence. Enough.”
“There’s 50 senators right now who refuse to vote on HR 8, which is a background check rule that the House passed a couple years ago,” he said. “It’s been sitting there for two years. And there’s a reason they won’t vote on it: to hold on to power.”
Steve Kerr on today’s tragic shooting in Uvalde, Texas. pic.twitter.com/lsJ8RzPcmC
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 24, 2022
Political statements are no strangers to the NBA. The league and many of its teams and players have openly advocated for left-wing political causes.
One of the political statements the NBA encouraged in recent years was the dishonor of the national anthem through officially sanctioned Black Lives Matter protests.
The league permitted athletes to desecrate “The Star-Spangled Banner” by kneeling when it was played before games instead of asking them to stand up and show respect for the anthem.
Gosh, @Kaepernick7 really started something! Players, coaches, game officials all take a knee during the National anthem before the NBA kicked off its delayed season. New Orleans Pelicans versus Utah Jazz. #BLM https://t.co/GSjIiNX88c pic.twitter.com/9dAwzSS0xB
— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) July 31, 2020
But when it comes to issues such as the deteriorating human rights situation in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong or the Chinese Communist Party’s mass internment and repression of Uyghurs, the league and many of its leaders have turned a blind eye to injustice in favor of appealing to the lucrative and large Chinese market.
When then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey shared a now-deleted tweet in 2019 expressing support for Hong Kong demonstrators protesting against CCP repression in the city, the NBA issued a statement calling Morey’s comments “regrettable,” Time reported.
“We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together,” the league said.
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The NBA went further in the statement’s Chinese version, saying, “We are deeply disappointed about Morey’s inappropriate comment and he undoubtedly has hurt Chinese fans’ feelings severely.”
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta declared on Twitter that Morey “does NOT speak” for the team and that the NBA is “NOT a political organization.”
Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
When former Boston Celtics player and human rights activist Enes Kanter Freedom spoke out against China’s genocide of the Uyghurs, league officials pressured him to not be explicit about his condemnation of China’s human rights violations, the player revealed in a November interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
.@EnesKanter says that he doesn’t care about the cost that he may face from criticizing China. But are the NBA concerned? Kanter told me he has discussed it with commissioner Adam Silver. “I told him… am I breaking any rules?”
“He said, no, you’re not breaking any rules.” pic.twitter.com/v2pDNklsGS
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) November 10, 2021
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida pointed out the NBA’s hypocritical duality in its approach to social justice in a Wednesday tweet responding to the Heat’s attempt to turn the moment of silence for the Uvalde victims into a political stunt.
The @NBA doesn’t like to talk about the billions they make from a China that enslaves Uyghur Muslims and harvests their organs
But they have no problem politicizing a horrific tragedy in America pic.twitter.com/VUXpOBbw7j
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 26, 2022
“The NBA doesn’t like to talk about the billions they make from a China that enslaves Uyghur Muslims and harvests their organs,” Rubio said. “But they have no problem politicizing a horrific tragedy in America.”