Atlanta Hawks, Champions Of Voter Rights, Heading To Wildly Voter-Suppressed UAE

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Back in 2020, the Atlanta Hawks were among the sports franchises that condemned a Georgia law that they felt restricted voters at the local level.

But just wait until they get a load of the United Arab Emirates.

The Hawks will play two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks in Abu Dhabi in October, part of an effort by the NBA to strengthen its brand overseas.

As we’ve already relayed, homosexuality is illegal and even punishable by death in UAE, and the NBA is going there, anyway. This after being extremely vocal about protecting gay and transgender rights in the United States.

The league has also stood strongly for voting rights, and the Hawks felt compelled to release their own statement after Georgia legislation on the topic was made law in 2020. Republicans viewed it as trying to protect against voter fraud; Democrats and the left-leaning NBA viewed it as voter suppression.

At the time, Hawks owner Tony Ressler released a statement, saying that “the right to vote is the most fundamental citizen’s right and we at the Hawks view ourselves as a civic asset — not a partisan organization — and remain committed to endorsing steps that promote equality and encourage participation by all who seek to cast a ballot.”

A few months later, the Hawks turned State Farm Arena into the largest polling site in Georgia history. So, without question, the Hawks and NBA are very concerned about making sure everyone has a chance to vote. Yes, that is admirable. Everyone is all for everyone having a chance to vote legally.

But by staging games in UAE, again, the NBA clearly only cares about those rights when it comes to the U.S.

After all, the league is sending its teams to a location where voting is wildly restricted — as the ruler of each emirate decides who gets to vote, and who doesn’t.

Wonder how the Hawks and NBA would feel if a U.S. Senator came out and said, “Here’s who gets to vote, per my decision and my decision alone.”

Or what if the senator said, “Most women can vote, provided they first receive approval from their guardian.” Because that’s the way it works in UAE.

Think the NBA would still hold preseason games in that senator’s state? Think any team in that state would merely go about their business? Think the mainstream media would stay quiet about it and follow blindly along, acting as sort of a PR arm for the league?

Of course not.

But the NBA continues to prove it holds the U.S. to a higher standard than the rest of the world. The social justice rights that the league and its broadcast partners fight for so feverishly at home don’t seem to matter one iota elsewhere.

That makes the league and media seem as if everything they say to believe is mere grandstanding. It makes them seem like massive hypocrites.

No one ever cared if the NBA got involved in politics. It decided to do that all on its own. And the more we learn, the more we can see, the NBA’s politics aren’t really even all that important to the NBA — despite what we’re constantly being told.





Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side,

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