Three Young NBA Guards Discuss Black History Month by Derrel Jazz Johnson

During late January and into February, I had the honor of speaking to numerous players in the National Basketball Association about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who the NBA has been honoring with a slate of games on Dr. King Day for decades, and the significance of Black History Month, which the NBA has been celebrating with many items featuring the hashtag #NBABHM. Below are some excerpts from my dialogue with three young point guards.

Third-year point guard Kyrie Irving, an NBA All Star who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, shared thoughts of remembrance and honoring leaders of the past. “I feel like it’s our duty as Americans to
follow Dr. King’s dream. There were a lot of African Americans who stood for pride and injustice and fought the system. I feel like it is our duty to live out their dream every single day. Black History
Month is very important to us. It was very important in our household since I was a kid. Recalling those days, you learn so much about not only your culture, but everyone else’s culture. There was so much struggle but it was a prideful movement in those times when there were struggles in society.”

Fellow All-Star point guard and 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers shared his thoughts on how the fight for equality has impacted his life. “It was a point in time when I couldn’t be on the court with some of my coaches and some of my teammates, so just the fact that we could all come together and be a part of a team, we can come to companies and work together, and be in the same classroom it just says how far we’ve come.”

Lillard continued to discuss how those who are honored during Black History Month have shaped his life. “As African Americans, for us to be professional athletes, and for kids all over the world, no matter
what race, to look up to us, and the color of our skin not matter, it’s huge. There are a lot of African Americans in the NBA and that’s growth. That shows growth. (Now) we can be working on a team
together, working for companies together, (learning) in the classroom together, because (back then) that couldn’t happen. It just shows how far we’ve come.”

Rookie Dallas Mavericks point guard Shane Larkin, son of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, talked about the results of the Civil Rights Movement as he glanced across the locker room at some of his teammates. “You can still feel the outcome of what everyone did back then today. You look in this locker room, none of this is possible without (Dr. King), without all of the people who stood up and just fought for that.” Larkin continued to talk about himself and teammates. “Without (the Civil Rights Movement) I wouldn’t be able to sit here. A lot of my teammates wouldn’t be able to be sitting here. It shows what you can accomplish if you stand up and fight for what you believe in. I’m grateful for everything that they did back then.”

I really enjoyed listening to the answers from these three young men, in their third, second, and first seasons in the NBA, respectively, as they discussed the actions of men who fought for future equality well before they were born. Athletes are often stereotyped as unintelligent, but my questions, and their answers, prove that their knowledge is far above what many think. These three point guards can
not only school you on the basketball court with crossover dribbles, but also off it with well-informed opinions about those who sacrificed on their behalf. Happy Black History Month to you all. You can
follow me on Twitter @razzjazzsports and on Instagram @JazzJohnson1

Check out the video interview with Kyrie Irving

Check out the video interview with Damian Lillard

Check out the interview with Shane Larkin

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About RazzandJazzSports

The Razz and Jazz Sports Blog was created by Marc "Razz" Rasbury and Derrel "Jazz" Johnson to create fresh opinions on New York Sports and beyond from two credentialed members of the media.
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One Response to Three Young NBA Guards Discuss Black History Month by Derrel Jazz Johnson

  1. Farrah Catin says:

    Very good piece. I am proud of you for doing that. A lot of us black people do not know the qualification of being black or understanding what black history month was and is. It’s because of Dr. King and up coming people like you that will continue the legacy of teaching us and showing us what black history month was and is. This piece is a noble piece prize. Awesome job Derrel. Continue to prosper in what you do.

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