If you know anything about 2019, you know that society at large is extremely sensitive. Everything is offensive, everything is inappropriate, and if we don’t show caution in what we say or write, somebody may be triggered.
This story had been floating around for some time, but I don’t recall any sort of official press release or league office statement or confirmation of a policy change. The NBA is moving away from the term “owner” and going with “governor” instead, since “owner” is deemed racially insensitive by a number of professional basketball players. The change just sort of happened, and Commissioner Adam Silver commented on it this weekend.
When we saw Silver out in NYC, we asked if he supported the decision and how the league office is handling the issue.
“I don’t want to overreact to the term because, as I said earlier, people end up twisting themselves into knots avoiding the use of the word owner,” Silver said … “But, we moved away from that term years ago in the league.”
“We call our team owners ‘Governor of the team’ and ‘alternate Governor.'”
Silver says the word owner has sometimes slipped through in an NBA memo — but general rule in the office is to no longer use that term … adding, “I’m sensitive to it and I think to the extent teams are moving away from the term, we’ll stick with using Governor.”
This is a bit of a nothing burger to me, because people like Sixers Managing Partner Josh Harris don’t own Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. They own the team that those guys play for. The players voluntarily enter the NBA, where they go on to earn millions of dollars playing basketball. The “owners” are majority equity holders operating under league rules combined with a collective bargaining agreement, similar to pretty much every private sector corporation in this country.
Likewise, if you take a job with Crossing Broad, you are working for Kyle. He owns the company, not the writers, i.e. Bob/Phil/Russ/etc. You can literally start working or stop working for him whenever you’d like. That’s generally how free market Capitalism works.
My company has an Owner. He owns the company not me. This isn’t that difficult.
— Tiffany Parks (@TifParks) June 24, 2019
Mark Cuban shot this down back when Draymond Green came out against the use of the term “owner” back in 2017.
Said Cuban at the time:
“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.”
“We own equity. We don’t own people,” Cuban said. “And there’s a big difference. This is a country where we have corporations, and you put up your money and buy equity. E-Q-U-I-T-Y. It translates into shares of stock. People who bust their ass and work hard and get a little bit lucky have enough money to buy enough shares of stock to buy a company.
Right, so I can’t say it any better than Cuban did, and I understand that oftentimes it’s best to take a step back and listen to people when they tell you how something makes them feel, to try to understand where they’re coming from and adjust our approach and our thinking instead. If a small and harmless change makes somebody else feel better, then it’s corny for me to sit here and bitch about it. Changing a title from “owner” to “governor” literally has zero impact on me, you, and about 99% of people out there.
The problem is two-fold:
One, the complaints are totally off-base. NBA executives “own” their teams because they literally hold a majority stake in the club. They don’t own the people and their employees are not forced into labor, just like every other corporation that exists in this country.
Two, it’s a continuation of the slippery slope that political correctness put us on in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with evolving the way we think to be more inclusive and sensitive to other people, but it gets to a point where the merits of constant complaints can absolutely be called into question. At some point we have to say, “okay, this is getting ridiculous, enough already.”
Finally, if we must insist on using the term “governor,” remember that not all governors are good people: