The term “owner” is widely used across sports as a label for the executives that hold a majority stake in a franchise, but you may stop hearing it used in the NBA.
According to TMZ Sports, several teams around the league are at least considering moving away from the term due to implicit racial insensitivity. That news follows Warriors star Draymond Green expressing issue with the “owner” label on multiple occasions in the past.
Green weighed in on the topic during an episode of HBO’s “The Shop” last year. The show, which is a LeBron James production, brings together personalities from sports and entertainment to have free-flowing and spirited discussions on current issues. After Jon Stewart raised the idea of the “owners” label being problematic due to basketball (and other sports) being “purely the labor of people,” Draymond agreed.
“You shouldn’t say owner,” Green said. “When you think of a basketball team, nobody thinks of the f—in’ Golden State Warriors and think of that damn bridge. They think of the players that make that team… you don’t even know what the f— [the bridge] is called.”
Green also raised the argument while talking to reporters in 2017.
“Very rarely do we take the time to rethink something and say, ‘Maybe that’s not the way,'” Green said. “Just because someone was taught that 100 years ago doesn’t make that the right thing today. And so, when you look at the word ‘owner,’ it really dates back to slavery. The word ‘owner,’ ‘master’—it dates back to slavery… we just took the words and we continued to put it to use.”
There has been some pushback on the argument each time Green has raised it, including from NBA owners themselves. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was especially vocal in rejecting Green’s thoughts, saying that he and other top executives own equity, not people. Cuban even went so far as to say the Warriors forward should apologize for his comments.
“For him to try to turn it into something it’s not is wrong,” Cuban told ESPN. “He owes the NBA an apology. I think he does, because to try to create some connotation that owning equity in a company that you busted your ass for is the equivalent of ownership in terms of people, that’s just wrong. That’s just wrong in every which way.
“People who read that message and misinterpret it—make it seem like we don’t do everything possible to help our players succeed and don’t care about their families and don’t care about their lives, like hopefully we do for all of our employees—that’s just wrong.”
The NBA responded to the TMZ report with a statement that reads “we refer to the owners of our teams as Governors; each team is represented on our Board of Governors.” The league reportedly isn’t pressuring teams to avoid the “owner” classification, but multiple teams have already changed top titles and apparently more considering it.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers are among those that have made the change over the past few years. The Sixers now list their top executives as Limited Partners while Steve Ballmer is labeled as Chairman of the Clippers.
The league may not be explicitly requesting teams avoid the term, and many still use it, but it sounds like there may be an increasing social pressure to move away from the term that some feel is outdated and insensitive.
Courtesy: CBS Sports