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Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant go #10for10 with Colin Kaepernick

The NFL free-agent quarterback has pledged donations of $10,000 per day, for the next 10 days, to complete a $1-million pledge to charitable organizations.

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2017 Sportsperson of the Year Show
Colin Kaepernick is honored with the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at Barclays Center in NYC on Dec. 5, 2017.
Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Colin Kaepernick has pledged to donate $1 million to organizations that advance social-justice causes and serve underprivileged or marginalized communities.

For his final $100,000 (to be distributed in sums of $10,000 per day for the next 10 days), Kaepernick secured the help of a few friends for assistance in selecting organizations to which the funds should be directed.

Kevin Durant, philanthropist extraordinaire

In seeking assistance with philanthropic efforts, it makes sense that the name of the reigning NBA Finals MVP would come to mind quickly. Throughout his career, Durant has made concerted efforts to fund organizations that support under-served communities, including his hometown of Prince George’s County, Maryland, Oklahoma City and, now, the Bay Area.

Durant chose De-Bug San Jose, an organization that supports campaigns which advocate “criminal justice reform, economic justice, housing, and immigrant rights,” in San Jose, CA. Naturally, the big-hearted basketball phenom didn’t just pick an organization — he donated $10,000 of his own.

Kaepernick thanked Durant for his work over the years “uplift[ing] and empower[ing] our communities.”

Curry, the budding activist

For many Americans, conditions in this country had to turn unbelievably bad before social-justice and political issues really registered on their radar. Arguably, the same could be observed of Stephen Curry who, in 2016, was slow to dip a big toe into the political waters surrounding the league (at least, publicly).

Most notably, his initial statement about NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Curry’s hometown of Charlotte (in protest over North Carolina’s HB2 law), was tentative, with Curry avoiding the political discussion altogether.

Since that time, however, Curry has been increasingly vocal about social-justice issues he finds fault with, including the treatment of immigrants, racial injustice/profiling, and Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric, which inspired the basketball game-changer to announce his decision to decline a visit to the White House to celebrate the Warriors’ 2017 NBA Championship (if one had been extended).

Curry, who said he knew of Kaepernick’s #MillionDollarPledge initiative “almost a year ago,” stepped up big by naming United Playaz as an organization in need of support. Like Durant, he matched Kaepernick’s contribution with $10,000 of his own, calling it “a small gesture.”

United Playaz operates under the philosophy that “it takes the hood to save the hood,” and provides services including: in-school violence prevention, after-school programs, community and crisis response, case management, and workforce development.

“I think the opportunity KD has and I have to bring that to the Bay Area ... to kind of rally around for what Kaepernick stands for and his mission to better communities through financial resources,” Curry said. “That’s huge.”

For Kaepernick, will justice be served?

Kaepernick, who remains sidelined due to alleged NFL collusion to keep him off the field, has certainly made good use of his time (and money) while away from the sport. Yet, for a quarterback of his caliber in a league filled with under-performing athletes at the position, the decision to play or not to play should be his alone.

A grievance filed with the NFL states: “Colin Kaepernick’s goal has always been, and remains, to simply be treated fairly by the league he performed at the highest level for and to return to the football playing field.”

Curry noted in his game-day interview in Chicago that Kaepernick has “put his money where his mouth is.” And many would argue that the QB who took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 has found his true calling in his philanthropic efforts. But citizens in a democracy have the right to self-determination, and it is impossible to classify the refusal of NFL teams to sign Kaepernick as anything other than discriminatory.

Yet, by being light years behind the NBA in addressing pressing human rights concerns, the NFL has done more to advance the cause, with Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL team owners now experiencing the best kind of comeuppance. Their attempts to silence Kaepernick and other players from peaceful protest has cost them viewers and sponsors, while simultaneously bringing even more attention to the issues Kaepernick advocates, which they sought to sweep under the rug.

A court ruling supporting Kaepernick’s claims of collusion by NFL team owners would bring justice in a sport mired in a long history of player maltreatment and deceptive practices.

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