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Whitlock: Milwaukee Bucks, Black Athletes Can No Longer Afford To ‘Just Do It’

For more than 30 years, the most powerful cultural force in American sports, Nike, has encouraged athletes to Just Do It.

Colin Kaepernick followed Nike’s advice four years ago. He sat on the bench during the playing of the national anthem. After a conversation with a former Green Beret, Kaepernick changed to taking a knee. 

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explained in late August of 2016. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

The former 49ers quarterback has never been asked to articulate a list of demands or formulate a strategy for correcting the racial oppression he sees. He’s been celebrated for raising awareness around rare instances of police-involved shootings of black men. 

Four years later to the day, the Milwaukee Bucks joined Kaepernick’s Just Do It social justice movement. As a means of protesting the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Bucks refused to take the court Wednesday afternoon against the Orlando Magic. 

Milwaukee’s abstention shut down the NBA Bubble, caused the cancellation of three Major League Baseball games and marked August 26, 2020 as a sports day that will live in infamy.

A 20-second viral video of police shooting a resisting criminal suspect wanted for sexual assault did what the Zapruder film could not. Jacob Blake halted sports. The NFL played on in the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s televised assassination.

Just Do It.

The 1988 Nike slogan drives the logic of professional athletes — old and young.

“I’m very proud of the players,” NBA star-turned-TNT broadcaster Chris Webber said Wednesday night in an emotional, widely-praised defense of the work stoppage. “I don’t know the next steps. Don’t really care what the next steps are because the first steps are to garner attention. And they have everybody’s attention around the world right now.”

The Just Do It slogan was inspired by the last words of confessed double-murderer Gary Gilmore, who responded “let’s do it” when seated before a firing squad in 1977. Nike, the Portland-based shoe manufacturer, wanted a rebellious, counter-culture advertising campaign to reach young people. What’s more rebellious than the last words of a murderer?

“We know nothing is gonna change,” Webber continued. “We get it. Martin Luther King got shot and risked his life… We’ve seen this in all of our heroes constantly taken down. We understand that it’s not gonna end.”

Just Say It. Anything. It doesn’t have to make sense. You can inadvertently compare the killing of Martin Luther King to the shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of George Floyd. Just Do It.

The truth doesn’t matter. Strategy doesn’t matter. 

“But that does not mean young men that you don’t do anything,” Webber continued. “Don’t listen to these people telling you don’t don’t do anything because it’s not gonna end right away. You are starting something for the next generation and the next generation to take over.”

I think Chris Webber is well-intentioned. He’s trapped inside the same bubble and echo chamber as the players. Long before they were all sequestered at Disney World, black professional athletes immersed themselves inside Nike’s China-approved, LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick-constructed social justice bubble. Inside that bubble all criticism of Kaepernick and James is dismissed as racism or race betrayal.  Inside that bubble the actions of a police officer struggling to subdue a resisting black criminal suspect is reflective of how America feels about black people. 

“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday, “and this country does not love us back.” 

When police shoot or kill a black criminal suspect it explains how America feels about black people? When police kill a white criminal suspect does it explain how America feels about white people?

We have to break from thought bubbles, the social media silos that confirm our worst biases about the opposite race. 

The NBA Bubble is toxic. It was bound to burst, bound to foment racial animus. The Bubble is a museum dedicated to defining America as inherently racist and demonizing anyone who questions the sanity of analyzing a nation through the lens of police engagement with resisting suspects.

This is the consequence of injecting politics into sports. Politics is inherently partisan, divisive, dishonest, racially exploitive and destructive. Politics blinds. The fight for political power erases the humanity of the opposition. Politics uses fear to inspire voters. 

“Black men, black women, black kids, we are terrified,” LeBron James, who is leading a Democractic voter-registration drive, said a day after watching the Jacob Blake video. 

James, Rivers and Webber are all good men. They are trapped in the bubble of hate that has captured a large swath of black and white Americans during this election cycle. The mainstream media and social media financially capitalize on the hate bubbles they promote and exploit.

NBA players have reportedly agreed to resume play in the coming days. The cancellation of the NBA season might have been best for sports and America. The isolation of the NBA Bubble accentuates the racial divide and encourages the irresponsible Just Do It mentality. 

Chris Webber and other athletes need to engage with people who don’t share their worldview, people who reject the Just Do It mantra. 

If there’s no plan, there’s no progress. If there’s no strategy, there’s no progress. 

Rather than a pointless gesture designed to “garner attention” or organizing protests designed to seek “justice” for a resisting criminal suspect, why can’t we encourage black professional athletes to pool their economic resources and invest in black communities?

Jobs combat racism far more than destroying sports leagues that employ and compensate black men. Black professional athletes could start banks and businesses that dramatically improve black communities. 

Athletes shouldn’t listen to the well-intentioned people who tell them to just do anything. Just doing it accomplishes nothing of value. It’s the philosophy of a confessed double-murderer sitting before a firing squad. 

You can take the advice of Gary Gilmore or consider mine. Your choice. 

If you want Jason Whitlock for your TV or radio show or podcast, contact

Written by Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is a longtime sports writer, TV personality, radio host, podcaster and the newest member of the Outkick family.
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  1. Jason – very insightful article. Instead of Just Do it, why don’t we JustTry2day, we need to teach “Kids” of all ethnic groups to develop positive lives skills so we can address all issues respectfully.


  2. Jason, thank you for this insightful piece. The fear that is being propagated based on this false narrative is dangerous and leading an entire generation to believe a lie, convincing them that they are the hunted enemy of their fellow citizens. This message is going to have long term ramifications and the athletes throwing gasoline on this fire are only going to make life more difficult for those populations they claim/intend to help. Keep up the great work!

  3. Jason I believe wholeheartedly in what you are saying. How hard can it be for multi-millionaire athletes to “Just Do It” and speak up and take real action for all minorities in impoverished inner-cities? The promoting of hate, racism and propaganda does nothing but fuel the fire. Where does this all end?Sadly it is the innocent who always pay the price. I would love to be part of something bigger where I donate financially and support black athletes to start banks and business to improve black communities. The Lives of Black People and ALL people matters to me. I am sick and tired of the media stirring up the violence and looting by refusing to tell the truth and share the facts. They are making martyrs out of life-long criminals.

  4. I could hear the disappointment in Jason’s voice today with Clay. He said he was embarrassed for how all this looks and you could hear him struggle to put a point on all of this. It’s easy to say this is all about Trump and the election, but there is so much more to this.

    Jason is talented and articulate, but the forces that seem to be pushing LBJ and Weber and others is not listening. Or they can’t read. Every column of Jason’s seems to be so organized and logical and a joy to read, but the people that need to read him are not reading him.

    Love Jason’s perspective and his writing, but why Are they not taking the time to read what Jason says. His columns should inspire introspections in Blacks, Whites and Others and shades of grey.

    • Jason has rightly pointed out many times that young black men were killed by police in the OBAMA years…crickets as far as conflating it to OBAMA…
      but a toilet bowl backs up in Nancy Pelosi’s office…it’s a shit show caused by TRUMP.

    • Because any black man with a dissenting opinion is characterized as an Uncle Tom, coon, sellout, etc, etc. Any white man not dick-riding BLM is painted as racist, xenophobic, etc, etc. Let’s be real, Americans are ADD AF and are incapable of processing all of the information to make smart/logical decisions or opinions. Emotions and propaganda run the show.

  5. Jason…you really nailed it today!!!!!
    I was gonna say the NBA (black and white) needs some tough love…like real world tough love…but you sold me on logic and reason. Keep it up!!!

  6. J. Whitlock is correct when he said athletes could invest in the black communities and the same for entertainers as well.

    They make enough where they can go into any black community and literally buy up an enormous amount of property, gut it out and build commercial buildings and rent those buildings out to entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, dentists, optometrist, chefs, store owners, bankers, etc.

    That would create jobs and that money can stay in the community, but they don’t want to do that, because it is much easier to kneel, protest, and sent out Tweets.

  7. Interesting history lesson on the origins of that Nike phrase. I never knew that. However, it makes sense now, based on the company’s recent positions and where their home base is, as well as the positions of their athletes. Cant really add anything that you or the other commenters haven’t already stated so eloquently. But you did reference the incidents of police shooting white suspects. How do they reckon that with this narrative that police hate blacks and are slaughtering blacks because of systemic racism? More whites are killed by cops than blacks every year. Yet, not a word from MSM or these athletes. Not a word when its black on black. But a white cop on a black suspect (almost always during a confrontation) and the athletes go nuts and claim racism. You were right in an earlier article, Mr. Whitlock. These athletes are being played by politicians. Primarily, old, white politicians. They’re making themselves look like fools so an old white man and a pretty woman of color, who falsely claims or infers to be African American, and is married to a white man, and probably has zero black friends in her inner social circle, and pretends to “talk black” when its politically beneficial, can run the country. I would say most NBA players are pretty savvy when it comes to the streets. But they’re getting played by old white people and middle aged fake black people. Sad.

  8. I am so dissapointed with these guys. They are calling out their white players as ” Bitch ass white boys”, btw anyone who has played any ball knows that is the most deragatory term you can throw at white player. They dont condemn this racist behavior but are all over boycoting over a case they have no facts about. They surround themselves with all “Yes man” , they are more worried about their tatoos, side pieces and social media then working on their game. Totally different cloth and generation of players. Very entitled, ignorant and closed minded. But I will still kepp watching cause I love the game.

    • The NBA product has been shit for years, unless you enjoy watching a 3 point shooting contest. I wouldn’t go to a game if you paid me. They distract you with prizes, t-shirts shot out of a cannon, and dancers.

      My cousin likened watching the NBA to a Jew supporting Hitler. Make no mistake about it, this is a war, a culture war, and if you watch the NBA, you’re supporting the enemy.

  9. How about the NBA produce a PSA about how to properly interact with a police officer. That would save a lot of lives if people would follow the advice. It seems many have no idea of how to behave while being arrested or questioned by authorities.

  10. My favorite line, “The NBA bubble is toxic.” That pretty much sums it up, as they truly are living in both a real and figurative bubble of groupthink. Since they are only surrounded by people that will agree with everything they say or do, they truly believe that the overwhelming majority of people in this country agree with them. Sad.

  11. Jason, thank you for writing this column that needed to be written. NBA owners are worth billions of dollars. NBA players have millions upon millions of dollars. Can’t they do something? Anything besides race baiting and promoting resisting arrest? Like you say, they could pool their money and start banks and businesses. And if not that, they could start small. They could go into poor communities and give kids, families, and communities hope. They could pick a school district, any district, and anyone who makes honor roll gets to attend a special game the players play for them. They could make donations to schools (like Jalen Ramsey). They could co-sponsor an event with law enforcement in their city to relieve tensions between police and communities. The possibilities are endless…But do they do anything? Nope, they only point their fingers and demand change, completely oblivious to the fact that they themselves can make change…..I saw yesterday that Lebron tweeted out that 150 years ago a group of racists lynched a group of black men. Lebron, this is not 1870. You are a billionaire (or soon to be billionaire). If you want to do something positive, then “roll up your sleeves”, make a plan, and get to work. Otherwise, just take your billion dollar bank account and go away. Do not finish the bubble games, just go. PLEASE, just go away!!! (With all Lebron’s photo ops at his “I promise school”, whatever money he put into it he is probably getting back. It’s probably going to amount to a “woke social Justice” commercial for his “brand”. With the billions and billions of dollars the NBA makes, they could do better, if they actually cared. We’ll see if the I promise school delivers something positive when it is fully operational. Even though I am not watching the NBA, I do hope the school is successful. But with tweet machine Lebron, who is small on action, the success of his school is a big MAYBE)

  12. Larry Elder wisely pointed out the hypocrisy of the professional sports world. Every sport is using analytics to understand performance and to strategize future play. They are very open to stats and data within their field of endeavor. At the same time they totally ignore the stats and studies that show their narrative is false. Cops are less likely to fire their weapon at black men than white. The number one cause of death of young black men is murder; about 90% of the time at the hands of another young black man. Players, Coaches, Executives, and Media ignore the data and spread the destructive narrative that can never be solved, the conflict is good for business for many of them.

  13. I said this exact thing to my friend the other day. All of these athletes are letting Nike, Adidas, etc. etc. buy them off with small donations to their preferred social justice groups (BLM in particular).

    NIke is worth about $24 billion. They donate a couple million and all of a sudden they’re allies down with the cause.

    I wish someone would ask LBJ why athletes don’t pool their power and demand these companies build factories in urban areas. GIVE THEM JOBS! Not handouts!

    Think of the power their voices would have if they really wanted to recognize and help the problem. They could force all of these companies to bring back factories and jobs into inner city areas. Invest in their generational well being, not some slogan such as BLM.

    Side note: A big problem that I’ve come to conclude is this: Rap, gangsta rap, etc. has hijacked black culture. Originally rap was the description of the pain/challenges/danger young black men faced growing up in the inner city. It was allowed to become the norm for the rest of America. Example: WAP is the top rap song. Unbelievable.

    Another side note: Doc Rivers said “this country does not love us back.” WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F*CK?? Since I was a teenager in Terre Haute, IN (shoutout to my fellow hoosier Whitlock)…BLACK HAS BEEN COOL! It’s why black athletes, music stars, etc. are millionaires! White America has spent trillions on products made/endorsed/worn by Black America. We twice elected a black man president (horrible deceitful president though). It’s why white guys want to be cool like black guys. As Uncle Joe would say “COME ON MAN!”

    • Chris, I agree. To me, these players have the mentality of children. Their athletic privilege has in a sense “sheltered” them from reality. They cannot relate to everyday working people. Their minds literally cannot comprehend that if we allow “systemic resisting of police”, many more people will be killed (killed in lawless cities). They suffer from such a severe mental block, that the lives of children killed in lawless cities don’t even factor into their decision making (as you stated, their words are the result of an emotional outburst). Even the way they speak is like children: “Why do they Hate us?”, “Just do something”, “Fuck that man”. They do not discuss any issues in an intelligent manner………..Sadly, as Whitlock has previously stated, white liberal elitists don’t want to give voices to black intellectuals. White liberal elitists prefer to feed butter biscuits to athletes who never developed their intellect. (Lebron and Malcom Jenkins come to mind)

      • Also, Jason, thank you for another great column. I saw a video on youtube labeled “black intellectual roundtable”. It was a great video made by Bret Weinstein (I am taking your advice and trying to listen to many points of view). While watching it, I couldn’t help remembering your comments about racist white liberals not giving voices to black intellectuals. They only give voices to athletes and “brand builders” like Jemele and Bomani. Mainstream media doesn’t give us voices like these:

  14. Great line about politics destroying the humanity of your opponent, that’s never been more true in American history than right now. There’s plenty of reasons to dislike Donald Trump, he came from Reality TV, he’s smug, and he tweets too damn much. But his policies have been mostly positive for America. He’s not done a single thing to hurt black Americans, in fact he’s invested millions of federal money in the HBCU’s and had the lowest unemployment in 50 years. But ask a lefty these days and they legitimately believe we have a Maniacal, Ruthless Dictator as President intent on killing off the black race. Their behavior is literally psychotic.

    Only thing I’d respectfully disagree with, 8/26 will not live in infamy, because Americans don’t care about professional sports (other than the NFL) nearly as much as we used to. I’ve watched less than 2 minutes of NBA all year, less than 10 minutes of baseball. They could cancel both leagues permanently and I’m not sure that I’d notice. Although I would feel bad for the true baseball fans out there who support their teams.

  15. ESPN would never let that happen, behind the scenes they are pulling all the strings to keep the season alive. Most of the players are not educated enough to understand the economics of what not working means to your livelihood, but the execs at ESPN fully understand it.

  16. Great Column AGAIN. I wish Lebron was your Nephew…maybe he would listen to reason.

    I think Lebron and NBA players could help Black Men that get on the wrong side of the law by making a series of Public Service Videos similar to the famous Chris Rock Video.

    Lebron & Co could put their ‘money where their mouth is’ by setting up a Defense Fund and emphasize that IF you are confronted by Law Enforcement:

    1 Follow the commands of the Law Enforcement Officers
    2 Do NOT Resist Arrest or Fight the Police
    3 Let Black Men know that the ‘Lebron Defense Fund’ will provide the best lawyers available in their area at No Charge as long as they follow those rules.

    People would be alive today and lives would not have been ruined by following these simple instructions

  17. Funny that Webber would invoke a comparison to Martin Luther King. His movement was calculated, deliberate, and well-planned. They knew exactly what their goals were, even if the goal was to get arrested. That movement was successful because it forced white Christians to face the great injustice of segregation, an injustice that flew in the face of the ideals of our nation and our Bible. There were no good arguments against King’s position, and gradually more and more said segregation was wrong.

    Jesus once said “by your fruits, ye shall know them”. If the players put up money for a legal fund for Blake, or paid for a legal team to press Kenosha’s DA, I would applaud them. If they called for an end to the rioting, or a national day of prayer, or for cooler heads to prevail – any of those would have been laudable . Instead, their plan was 1) get attention. 2)???? 3) Justice.

    When police officers spend a week in riot gear, dodging bricks and fireworks, are they likely to be more understanding? When businesses, churches, and apartments are destroyed, are the people who work, worship, and live there more likely to support BLM?

    • Webber is a fraud. He And Demarcus Cousins jumped on the Sacramento Kong’s announcer for saying “All Lives Matter”. Webber passive aggressively called him a racist, while being one himself.

  18. Speaking of, a friend of mine used to run this inner city Richmond VA school, among other things, he built them up to having a nice golf team, he’d take the inner city kids out to the burbs to play golf against the other Richmond teams and they won a lot of the time.

    That’s the type of impact athletes need to be focused on, educating kids and giving them a ticket out of a life of poverty and crime. To Lebron’s credit I believe he has started a similar school in Ohio. That’s the positive change we need.

  19. Great points, Jason. I believe the echo chamber has caused much of the groupthink response. But c’mon, there was not ONE NBA player willing to stand up and say something different? Perhaps “No, we should play FOR Jason Blake and put all of our game checks in a fund to pay for his hospital bills”, or “Is this what Jason & his family wants?” The NBA and MLB players who walked off with their balls have the mindset of children. Not adults with jobs to perform, but entitled little children. Imagine if anyone else not a coddled millionaire athlete told their employer they were boycotting work to support a criminal who was resisting arrest and was shot by a police officer. They would either be suspended or without a job.

    The BLM bubble notwithstanding, this incident shows how selfish, out of touch so many athletes are today. All of those behind the scenes broadcast & arena workers who need to feed THEIR families can go f*ck themselves, eh Lebron?

  20. Jason nailed it. This BLMBA bubble with the absence of challenge is fanning flames. If all this energy could go toward attacking major problems in cities such as Chicago (440 homicides during the the first six months of this year including 20 children) imagine how many lives could potentially be saved. LeBron is evidently convinced there is a need for more Democratic leadership. There are already Democratic mayors in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis. How’s that working out? Is LeBron even aware of Biden’s 1994 crime bill. It was great if you’re a fan of massive incarcerations. Biden was also an avid supporter of Democratic Senator Robert Byrd (a well known KKK leader). Enough said, I need to “saydue” myself.

  21. I literally think that collectively we are dumber than a generation ago…not talking about this site or writers…but America is literally not as smart…in other words, critical thinking is not practiced or seemingly even taught in school anymore…the highest faces in government cannot critically think…adam silver cannot critically think and most certainly LBJ and most other athletes and coaches either cannot, or ‘choose to’ think with emotion…there is no logic… any validation of arson is absent of critical thinking…walking out of your job because of a problem that you cannot statistically back up with the words you use in describing 340 mil, is for lack of a better term, completely ignorant….the sooner that all people that think like LeBron, Doc, Kenny, all these posers who think they are doing something acknowledge that they don’t REALLY care, the better.. the sooner that dudes and dames just acknowledge that they hate the other side the better…its getting closer to East and West America…

  22. I’m a 26 year old portlander. I’m friends with multiple strippers (not bragging it’s common here) and they all say Nike employees are the worst. I have multiple stripper friends I have to protect from Nike employees because they give them free shoes and think that they “own” those girls. They all suck. Don’t buy Nike.

  23. Jason, your points are spot on. Rosa Parks on the back of the bus was not a random, freak occurrence. That was planned and was not even the first attempt. This BLM movement is a blind dog in a meat market.
    I find it ridiculous that these professional athletes, because of their profession, have all the tools in their belts to flourish in life, yet discard them off the field of play. Discipline, work-ethic, setting goals, strategy, study your opponent, study yourself, working as a team, settling disputes, respecting authority, trusting leadership, trusting your fellow, and maybe most glaringly ignored- composure. Let’s get it together, people. Stop embarrassing yourselves.

  24. Jason keep writing the truth . SO the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, Are going to take the side of a man that had a Felony Warrant sexual assault . The police were called by a woman who was being assault and her car keys were being stole. Had a knife in his possession he would not comply to a lawful order by officers he was tased with no effect .Then goes to get in a car with kids in it and dive off. WHAT the fuck are you kidding me .This man would HAVE BEEN SHOT weather he was White ,Black ,Asian ,Indian, or even if it was a women .JUST DO IT right there going destroy the one of the greatest money maker for young black men in the world. And the white rich Liberals and BLM communist hate sport and ever thing it stand for like it masculinity family God love of the country . JUST DO IT POEPLE WILL STOP WATCHING AND OWNER WILL FINE NEW PLAYER IT A BUSINES S$$$$$$$

  25. If all these Athletes really wanted to help, they would change their slogan from “Black Lives Matter” to a “Don’t Resist”. campaign. My God, just imagine how powerful a campaign that would be to the youth of this country. They, and all the other former athletes and celebrities who have enormous financial resources can change a culture and most importantly save lives.

  26. Very thought provoking column Jason. Thank you for being a voice of reason. You should get ready for the race traitor label and other vile names that you are going to hear from those who don’t want to hear what you have to say. God bless you.

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