As Deadspin reports, “Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group that seeks to end gun violence in America through stricter gun control laws, has cut a series of ads with NBA stars Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Carmelo Anthony, and Joakim Noah.” Or as the New York Times puts it, “In a move with little precedent in professional sports, the N.B.A. is putting the weight of its multi-billion-dollar brand and the prestige of its star athletes behind the series of television commercials calling for an end to gun violence.” Which means the NBA has gone all-in for gun control . . .
The Times is correct. There’s little precedent for a national brand like the NBA — a league that purports to appeal to a broad spectrum of American sports fans — taking one side in as contentious an issue as gun control. Notice I said “gun control” rather than the dog whistle term, “gun violence.” No one who has any familiarity with the issues and players (so to speak) involved is unaware that by throwing in with Everytown for Gun Safety, what the the National Basketball Association is actually doing is putting the full weight of its brand behind more restrictive gun laws.
Those laws, by the way, would disproportionately affect lower to middle income minorites in big cities. That demographic makes up a significant portion of the NBA’s fan base, a cohort the league apparently wishes to help keep disarmed in the face of gang and other street crime where they live.
A decision to partner with the likes of Everytown in this kind of promotional effort had to have come from the very top of NBA management. They’ve obviously made the calculation that coming out very publicly against “gun violence” and the knock-on political and PR ramifications that will entail will, over all, redound to the league’s benefit. That’s a big roll of the dice and one that is by no means a sure thing.