By Emil Guillermo
This past week we saw the celebration of Juneteenth come alive with coincidence.
On the second year since it became a federal holiday, people began to understand the day for what it was. A delay of the end of slavery, which officially was abolished with the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862, signed 100 days later, but not practically ended until the U.S. Army brought word to Texas which had continued slavery until 1865.
When it comes to social justice, even when you win, some will slow roll you to the very end. Blame it on the post office? It took an army to deliver the news.
So, Juneteenth is a worthy celebration both to note the real end of slavery and to celebrate the triumph of truth and history.
But, this is why there are still forces out there that don’t want Americans to know even rudimentary aspects in U.S. history that may be critical of whites, or harmful to white self-esteem. Everyone should know of the reluctance to end slavery among those who still valued free labor that masked real racism.
On Juneteenth everyone was back on the same page. It was like America was finally on the same team.
And that’s why the coincidence of the Golden State Warrior parade was somehow fitting. Sure, the parade was in San Francisco, but Oakland is where the soul of the team has been since their days at Oracle.
To see them celebrate a fourth NBA basketball championship in eight years was remarkable. Because who were the stars? There was Stephen Curry holding up his trophies, puffing a cigar like a mogul. The 34-year-old is on a four-year contract worth $215,353,664, that expires in 2026. That’s an average salary of $53.8 million, all according to the website Spotrac.
Curry’s the MVP. But the other stars are all well paid. Andrew Wiggins is at $35+ million a year. And as he and teammate Jordan Poole joked in the locker room after the Game Six win for the championship, both are expecting a “bag.”
Wiggins’ bag will be bigger, and Poole’s bag should shoot up from his current $2.5 million annual salary. The Warriors already have the NBA’s biggest payroll, and the post-season adjustments will push the team to a record luxury tax.
But the Warriors can afford it. They already make a ton of money from the games, from attendance, from merch, from international rights, so the players shouldn’t be shortchanged nor the true beneficiaries of the sport, the fans.
The Warriors’ two owners — Joe Lacob, a former Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and movie producer Peter Guber — were part of a group that paid $450 million for the team in 2010. Forbes Magazine estimates the team is now worth 10 times their investment. That’s $4.5 billion. And that’s probably a low figure.
I think the Warriors can afford the luxury tax.
And it’s significant to note because, in the NBA, we are talking about African American labor being compensated here, richly but fairly.
The Warriors are full of talented millionaires, even among the bench warmers. Jonathan Kuminga, 19, is a future all-star on a four-year/$24.8 million deal for an average annual salary of $6.2 million. Former top draft pick James Wiseman has been hurt but is still on a salary that averages $9.9 million a year. Nothing like Curry’s deal, but just wait till their stars shine.
On parade day, Guber said he wants a “sequel.” And that, like everything else in capitalist America will cost money. It’s good to see them seem willing to pay the price for extraordinary talent in a country where for so many years Black labor was free.
That’s what we celebrated as a country on Juneteenth. The Golden State Warrior Championship parade may as well have been the symbolic national celebration for the entire country. It left us with a feeling that we were all on the same team.
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