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Community leaders consider Pistons boycott over lackluster support of black businesses

Aug 19, 2016

The Detroit Pistons are under fire for a lack of diversity in the NBA franchise's spending.

The Detroit Association of Black Organizations Inc. is considering a boycott of the Pistons and the NBA. The group said the league does not support black businesses. In a sport that is dominated by black athletes, this seems to be a real disconnect.

Rev. Horace Sheffield III is the CEO of the Detroit Association of Black Organizations. He joined Stateside to talk about the effort, and what they would like to see from the Pistons. 

Sheffield organized a regional meeting on Thursday in Detroit with a number of black business leaders in an effort to organize and make a plan for what exactly they would like to see from the Pistons and the NBA,and how they would accomplish that. A boycott of the team and its league was on the table. 

“I’ve talked with many, many people on the inside and say that it’s woeful,” he said.

According to Sheffield, the Pistons had issued a statement pointing out the number of African-American charities the team contributes to, and progress that has been made in diversity when it comes to hiring within the franchise. Sheffield said the statement did not address what was at the heart of their initial complaint.

The Pistons are valued at $850 million, and their revenue is estimated at $154 million. The league recently signed a 9-year, $24 billion television deal with Disney and Turner Sports. It would appear as though there is a lot of money to go around. However, Sheffield said despite the players on the court being nearly 75% black across the league (according to 2014/15 season), not enough of those millions are going to support black businesses.

Rev. Sheffield has raised this issue before, when he was a part of the organizing committee for the 2009 NCAA Final Four that was hosted at Ford Field in Detroit. According to Sheffield, there are parallels between the two issues. 

He says the situation also parallels some of the issues Detroit faces right now.

“The new slogan is ‘Detroit 2.0’ being remade,” Sheffield said. “And many people who have been long-term residents, who never left, who endured inordinate crime, paid unbelievable insurance premiums, I mean, suffered through the worst time of the city… are not the beneficiaries of this rebirth.”

Listen to the full interview above to hear Rev. Sheffield talk more about what came out of Thursday's meeting, and what the next steps are in working with the Pistons and the NBA.

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Rev. Horace Sheffield III is the CEO of Detroit Association of Black Organizations Inc.

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