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NBA and WNBA Stars Recall Their First Encounters With Racism

NBA and WNBA Stars Recall Their First Encounters With Racism

To close out Black History Month, basketball players from the NBA and WNBA sat down with Bleacher Report’s Are You Listening series and discussed being called the N-word and other racially charged incidents.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson, Golden State Warrior forward Andre Iguodala and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal recounted facing racism as early as middle school.

“One time in middle school, a kid called me the N-word,” Beal recalled. “We were walking out of gym class, literally, and it was kind of weird why he even called me it. He just pushed me and called me the N-word.”

Other players explained other incidents of racism including being told to sleep outside to being compared to gorillas and monkeys.

“I been in games where people will show up in my jersey with a gorilla outfit on,” Brown told the sports outlet.

Are You Listening? is a platform about “amplifying the voice of the modern black athlete, embracing their humanity and choosing to practice empathy.”

Watch the full segment below.  

Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.