Etan Thomas literally wrote the book on athletes and activism. His 2018 book We Matter: Athletes and Activism includes interviews with around 50 of the most socially conscious athletes of the last 50 or so years. Many of the topics covered in the book feel especially poignant these days.
During his appearance on the Bleav in Wizards podcast, Thomas shared his own thoughts about the NBA’s return to action and how the current crop of NBA players are handling it. Thomas could see the positives of players electing to sit out the rest of the year to focus their attention of social justice reform or continuing to play and using that to bring attention to racial injustice. He felt that the most important thing is positive discourse among those with opposing viewpoints.
Thomas was critical of media coverage disparaging Kyrie Irving for bringing to light many of the issues his peers were also weighing. He believes that Irving was following a historical precedent set by former players like Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabber who never shied away for standing up for what they believed to be the greater good.
He also didn’t hold back on his views that the season should be cancelled due to health concerns. This is a viewpoint that more and more current NBA players seem to share. We’ve recently seen players like our own Davis Bertans and Trevor Ariza opt to sit out the rest of the season. They each gave different explanations for their choices but it’s hard to believe that COVID-19 didn’t play a major part in that as well.
Thomas and his former teammate Larry Hughes also reminisced about their early 2000’s Wizards teams. They exchanged stories about former teammate Gilbert Arenas and reviewed what ultimately prevented those teams from being more successful: LeBron James.