Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has expressed his issues with the “owner” label within the NBA on multiple occasions in the past, with the latest during an episode of Lebron James’ “The Shop” last year on HBO. Green stated that teams comprised of people of color shouldn’t have “owners.” And even fellow guest on the show, Jon Stewart, agreed.
Stewart said to the group, “When your product is purely the labor of people, then owner sounds like something that is of a feudal nature.” Green followed up that statement with, “You shouldn’t say owner. When you think of a basketball team, nobody thinks of the f**kin’ 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**k [the bridge] is called.”
According to TMZ Sports, several NBA teams have moved away or at least considered moving away from the term outright. The Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers have both made the change over the past few years, as The Sixers now list their top executives as Limited Partners and Steve Ballmer is now labeled as Chairman of the Clippers.
Green previously spoke out about his concern over the term in 2017. He told reporters at the time, “Very rarely do we take the time to rethink something and say, ‘Maybe that’s not the way.’ 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.”
Someone who strongly opposes Green’s sentiment on the topic is Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, who stated he and other top executives own equity, not people.
Cuban told ESPN, “For him to try to turn it into something it’s not is wrong. 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.”
The NBA responded 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 NBA is not forcing teams to reconsider the term “owner,” but with a few teams already on board, more may follow suit.