Update (3:20 PM EDT): Sam Dekker responded to J.R. Smith’s comments in a now-deleted tweet.
There’s a reason people look at Trump supporters differently.
It has nothing to do with policy or party, but everything to do with basic human decency and respect.
It’s the same reason why newly crowned NBA champion J.R. Smith says former Cavaliers teammate Sam Dekker is the only teammate he has ever disliked, even though they only played together for a few weeks before Dekker was traded and Smith was deactivated.
“Throughout my whole career, it’s only one teammate I really don’t like. And he know that. And everybody else, I’m just cool with,” said Smith on “All Things Covered.” “He did some bullshit on the bus one day, talking some Trump shit, and I just wasn’t having it.”
It can’t be ignored that Dekker is a white man from Wisconsin who came to fame after leading the Badgers past the 2015 Kentucky Wildcats, one of the best teams in college basketball history, in the Final Four before losing to Duke in the National Championship.
Dekker’s thought process is more than likely shaped by his experience as a successful white athlete, which comes with a different level of privilege than the average white dude.
It’s possible that Dekker could just not think Trump is racist because he doesn’t have an understanding of what racism truly is based on his experience. It’s possible that he could just be voting for Trump based on the “economy.”
That’s what many of his supporters say, while often failing to provide any tangible evidence of how his policies have directly impacted the economy.
It’s more likely that Trump is just piggybacking off the progress President Obama made to lift the country out of one of the biggest recessions in American history.
All of these reasons are problematic because there is no excuse to stay ignorant in 2020. However, what Smith details later about Dekker is even more concerning and it illuminates the fears that many minorities in this country have about continuing to empower a man that only looks to represent the interests of white America.
“It’s a thought pattern. You’re taught that. It’s the hate you give … The privilege he has was taught to him, and he took heed of it and run [sic] with it even further than somebody who was not — who was oblivious to what they have and what the life they lived,” said Smith. “Because some people just go through their life — not necessarily knowing, but not aware and privy to somebody else’s circumstances. He’s a person who’s just very aware of somebody else’s circumstances and wants to keep them there, as opposed to try to help him elevate up. And I don’t respect anything about that.”
Dekker responded to Smith’s accusations later on Twitter saying he was “blindsided” before apparently deleting his tweet.
“Well I am just as confused as y’all,” Dekker tweeted. “I’m pretty simple, I’ve never been one to get into politics. Especially ‘Trump s—.’ I’ve never been a Trump guy, so this blindsided me.”
In fairness to Dekker, we don’t know exactly what he said on the bus that day, but what we do know is that this is a deeper conversation than just an alleged political disagreement between two athletes.
This is symbolic of the power struggle this country is facing between minorities who want equality and white people who want to keep their level of privilege that was given to them by the heinous acts of their ancestors.
The decision between Trump and Biden is not political, it is a moral one.
If you truly believe in equality for all, why would you support a man who is so clearly being used as a pawn to advance white supremacy, who doesn’t believe in Black athletes exercising their right to protest, who told a neo-Nazi group to “stand back and stand by” and allowed exponentially more Black and Brown people to die from COVID-19.
There’s a reason why Dekker is the only teammate Smith can’t stand. To many people, advocating for the Orange man is not about political preference, it’s an attempt to further oppress minorities to maintain your White privilege in this country.
If you are truly interested in leveling the playing field, don’t go to the polls and tick the box next to Donald Trump’s name.