Kyle Korver’s 17-year NBA journey has moved him from very white communities to primarily black locker rooms across the league.
Still, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the coronavirus pandemic, the Milwaukee Bucks sharpshooter says he has a lot to learn about racial injustice. So, he says he supports whatever NBA players want to do before the league’s restart in Orlando, Florida.
“If my black teammates and friends and brothers feel like the best way to go about real change is to not play, I stand with them. I’m OK with that. If we think that is the best way for change, I care more about change happening than a championship,” Korver told ESPN analyst and retired NBA player Richard Jefferson during SportsCenter’s Instagram Live on Tuesday.
“On the other side, I am on a team that feels like we could win, and I have never won. I would like to win. So, is there a way to do both? I think there’s a conversation there.”
“But, again, I’m going to follow the lead of my black brothers and teammates on this, and I stand with them in whatever they want to do,” he continued. “That’s what I want to do. I want change to happen, and I want to be a part of that in whatever role that I can, but I am also waiting for the NBA. I think there’s an opportunity in Orlando for us to be like, ‘Hey, how can we highlight change?’ The NFL’s come out with the $250 million and kind of their pledge of how they’re going to be about change, but what’s the NBA going to do? I happen to believe that the NBA is the best league, by far, and I’m so hopeful for what they’re going to come out with.”
A coalition of players led by Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley is pushing to hear the NBA’s plan for black causes before the restart. Korver talked about being a white player willing to support black teammates in the Black Lives Matter movement.
As a member of the Utah Jazz in 2019, Korver penned a first-person account for The Players’ Tribune titled “Privileged,” in which he acknowledged the issues of white privilege and racism following a racially charged incident between Russell Westbrook and a Jazz fan (after which the fan was permanently banned from the NBA).
Korver said he sees this situation as another opportunity to use his platform.
“First, I think that everyone who’s engaging in this conversation right now, whatever stance you may have, wants significant and real change to happen,” Korver said. “I feel like there’s been a lot of criticism towards different groups of what’s right and what’s wrong. And I think first, we just acknowledge that change needs to happen. And so, whatever we choose to do, there needs to be a plan and we need to be unified and we need to go for it.”