I don’t play basketball. I didn’t start watching the game until my then 15-year-old son became a Heat lifer in 2006. Since then, I’ve been to three finals, witnessed the Big 3 era, experienced the entire career arc of Dwyane Wade and watched him hoist three Larry O’Brien trophies. Since then, there has been a shift in NBA demographics.
I am at the NBA Finals in Toronto, Canada this week. I’ve seen playoff series dominated by the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokić, Pascal Siakam, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Rudy Gobert. And let’s not forget the first possible Asian-American NBA champion, Jeremy Lin.
Where there was once only Spike Lee and Jack Nicholson as perennial sideline superfans, now we have Canada’s Drake.I don’t play basketball; I am an immigration lawyer. As the debate concerning immigration rages, perhaps a little analogy… Has the league become less competitive? Have salaries and revenue gone down? Has the purported American-ness of the sport been diluted?
I would say a resounding No to all.
The sport has become more inclusive, more competitive, more international, and more representative of the American ideal and the American world we live in. Diversity has always been America’s greatest and most unique strength: The culmination of the nation-state, a country truly representative of the global community.
I love the dominance of the Golden State Warriors, and marvel at the team’s revolutionary creativity, drive and excellence. But I am hoping to see the Larry O’Brien in Jurassic Park, with the Spanish Marc Gasol and Cameroonian Siakam front and center; a reward of universality, equality and apoliticism; a symbol of the inspiring dynamic of athletics.
Joshua P. Bratter,
Connor D. Jetta,
Robert Hajir and