The Problem of Racism in NBA Essay

NBA is the major basketball association in the US and North America and basketball matches attract the huge audience nationwide as well as internationally but the playground as well as the NBA as the organization is not only the home for the great game but also the place for the manifestation of power relations and racial inequality. In spite of the racial diversity of NBA, the association still faces the problem of persisting racism which has multiple manifestations. The problem of racism in NBA results in the urgent need to introduce regulations and policies that help to prevent racism in NBA. In this regard, NBA has already proved its readiness to introduce the strictest measures to prevent racism, including the ban to attend NBA matches and participate in the association’s activities to any person, who admits racial comments or other manifestations of racism, including owners of NBA teams, as was the case of the ex-owner of LA Clippers, Donald Sterling. Therefore, the problem of racism in NBA persists but, at the moment, the association is taking bold steps to prevent racism in the association.

The problem of racism in NBA can be traced in different fields. In this regard, problems associated with racism of NBA teams’ owners has become viral recently, after allegations of racism related to the ex-owner of LS Clippers, Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by NBA over his racist comments and currently is virtually forced to sell his sport franchises (Swaine, 2014). The scandal has raised the public attention and triggered the turmoil affecting not only NBA but also the public and media in the US. Racist comments of Donald Sterling triggered the large scale antiracist campaign in NBA. As a result, he was banned by NBA and virtually excluded from the sport and NBA-related business. In such a way, the racist comments of Donald Sterling resulted in his exclusion from NBA, regardless of his high social standing and billions, which he did or could invest into NBA. Thus, NBA has manifested its readiness to put the end to racism and introduce sanctions against any person, who admits racist manifestations in NBA.

At the same time, the case of Donald Sterling is not exceptional since other owners of NBA teams also tend to racist comments and manifestations (Peter, 2014). Therefore, the punishment of Donald Sterling will teach other owners and stakeholders related to NBA to shift toward tolerance in their judgments and views on NBA teams, players as well as all people. The strict punishment of the ex-owner of LA Clippers for racist comments is the effective step toward the suppression of racism in NBA. The punishment of the ex-owner will restrain others from racist comments and change their attitude to the problem of interracial relations.

Some researchers uncover the problem of racism in relations between referees and NBA players, when the white background of referees comes into clashes with African American background of the majority of NBA players. The overwhelming majority of referees represent the white racial group. As a result, they comprise the majority of referees. However, the problem is that white referees and African American NBA players can slip to conflicts involving their racial background. At this point, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that referees and players are vulnerable to conflicts in the course of the game because players may disagree with referees’ decision. Such disagreements and conflicts are quite natural. This is why conflicts between referees and players are frequent, but the different racial background of players and referees can trigger manifestations of racism. As a rule, researchers (Price & Wolfers, 2010) insist that referees are responsible for racist comments or claims. However, such manifestations are rather exceptional today and implicit than explicit. The interracial relations between referees and African American players were traditionally tense but the tension was driven by traditional relations between referees and players.

The audience preferences uncover the hidden racism in the consumer behavior, since the interest of the audience to NBA matches increases, if white basketball players take part in matches (Kanazawa & Funk, 2001). At first glance, the audience preferences have little effect on racism in NBA but, in its essence, the audience preferences reveal the core of racism.  To put it more precisely, the audience preferences show the roots of racism, which originate from racial prejudices of the audience. Naturally, if the audience is vulnerable to racism then other stakeholders cannot always overcome racial biases and prejudices. As a result, referees, NBA team owners and other stakeholders can face considerable problems to overcome deep-rooted racial biases and stereotypes. Therefore, they may slip to racist comments being unaware to the full extent of their racist nature. Instead, they use comments, which they take for granted, which are natural for them, even if they are racist in their essence. They may do it not because of their personal deep-rooted racist beliefs but rather because they use social norms and stereotypes, which they are accustomed to.

At the same time, traditional racial tension between African Americans and the whites is not the only manifestation of racism that exists in NBA. Instead, it is possible to refer to the case of Jeremy Lin, the American basketball player of Taiwanese origin, who was also vulnerable to diverse manifestations of racism, including comments of sport journalists, who used racist sayings in relation to Lin (Freeman, 2012). In fact, the case of Jeremy Lin reveals the full extent to which racism is spread far beyond boundaries of NBA. To put it more precisely, racist comments concerning Lin can be traced among journalists and other stakeholders as well as public.

Therefore, racism in NBA does not exist within NBA only. Instead, racism is the social phenomenon that exists in the US society and NBA is just one of organizations, where racism has diverse manifestations. NBA stakeholders can slip to racism, but they may do it unintentionally being driven by their social beliefs and views. At the same time, it does not necessarily mean that racism is a social construct solely. Instead, individuals, who slip to racism in NBA, may do it purposefully as well that means that racism is a two-fold problem, which includes the external social impact on individuals and the impact of individual’s personal views and beliefs.

Thus, the problem of racism in NBA persists and NBA playgrounds and the association as the large organization experience the problem of racism as the manifestation of power relations within the association as well as within society. The essence of the problem originates from racism persisting in the US society.  At the same time, racism may be also the individual matter of a particular individual, who slips to racist manifestations. Racism involves the audience, referee-players relations, owners of NBA teams and relations between players. However, NBA does its best to put the end to racism and eliminate all manifestations of racism in NBA.

Works Cited:

Freeman, H. Jeremi Lin Row Reveals Deep-Seated Racism against Asian Americans. The Guardian, 2012.Retrieved from

Kanazawa, M.T. J.P. Funk. Racial Discrimination in Professional Basketball: Evidence from Nielsen Ratings. Economic Inquiry, 39(4), 599-608.

Peter, J. Owner’s Racial Incidents Spur Calls for NBA Action. USA Today, 2014.

Price, J. and J. Wolfers. Racial Discrimination among NBA Referees. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2010, 1859-1887.

Swaine, J. NBA Bans LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling for Life over Racist Comments. The Guardian, 2014. Retrieved from

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

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[Accessed: February 4, 2023] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

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"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

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"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

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"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

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