SACRAMENTO, CA — The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been known to acknowledge the diversity of its players and fans by celebrating various holidays and months dedicated to them.
For a number of years, the league has celebrated such occurrences as MLK Day and Black History Month. However, the Sacramento Kings organization took steps that have been deemed questionable in the eyes of many Black fans, and especially one particular Black player. Demarcus Cousins is a five-year vet who plays center for the Kings. Known affectionately to fans as “Boogie”, Cousins is considered one of the NBA’s elite players, perhaps one of its most outspoken as well.
Earlier this week (Feb. 1), it was announced by the Kings organization that they had planned to give away shirts commemorating the “Year Of The Monkey”, in conjunction with February 8th’s Chinese New Year. Cousins, sensing the suspicious intentions of his team’s marketing campaign, immediately stepped forward to announce his distaste for the t-shirt giveaway.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the team actually had placed the “Monkey” t-shirts on seats in Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena in the hours leading up to that evening’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Fans in the dominant society were outraged by Cousins’ stance on his team’s promotion, engaging in slanderous and sarcastic posts via social media. Below are just a few examples of the backlash that Demarcus Cousins received from white supremacists and suspected white supremacists alike.
— Juan Dios (@whatdyouxpect) February 3, 2016
— William Brett (@scenesetter91) February 4, 2016
— Johan (@johanbaka1) February 3, 2016
— Joel Martin (@fatzmcboom) February 3, 2016
— Lenny (@mice_eatcheese) February 2, 2016
While people outside of Black Society were in an uproar over the teams’ decision to scrap the giveaway, it should be noted that the originally planned date of the giveaway coincided with the first day of Black History Month–a month in which all of the NBA’s players are already wearing pre-game warm-up shirts in honor of.
Given the longstanding history of white supremacists’ false claims that Blacks and monkeys are related and/or resemble one another, it was necessary that the shirts were not given to the general public. It was an even better move that the team’s best player (who also happens to be Black) stood up in opposition to what his team wanted to do.