Report: NBA Teams Moving Away from Term 'Owner' After Draymond Green Comments

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2019

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 02: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors talks to the media during a press conference after Game Two of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on June 2, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Blinch/Getty Images

A number of NBA teams have had internal discussions about moving away from the term "owner" because of its perceived racial insensitivity.

TMZ Sports reported discussions about a potential change increased following Draymond Green's comments on The Shop last year. He suggested the league move toward titles like "CEO or chairman."

"You shouldn't say owner," Green said (warning: video contains profanity). "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."

The NBA released a statement to TMZ in response to the report: "We refer to the owners of our teams as Governors; each team is represented on our Board of Governors."

Jon Stewart, who posed the question in regard to the "owner" title, pointed out that basketball is "purely the labor of people."

More than 80 percent of NBA players are people of color. Around three-quarters of those players are black. 

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By contrast, there are only two minorities (Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Hornets and Vivek Ranadive of the Sacramento Kings) who own a majority share of an NBA franchise. The optics of white "owners" in a majority black league can evoke a negative connotation.

Green first suggested moving away from the "owner" title in 2017. 

"Very rarely do we take the time to rethink something and say, 'Maybe that's not the way,'" Green told reporters in 2017. "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."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took issue with Green's comments and said he owed the league an apology. Green has not apologized.

"For him to try to turn it into something it's not is wrong," Cuban told ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "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 itmake 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 employeesthat's just wrong."

The TMZ report says the NBA has not placed any pressure on majority shareholders to alter their titles. A majority of NBA teams list the person who holds a majority of the shares of a franchise as its "owner."

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