Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the most influential justices in the history of the Supreme Court, passed away on Friday at the age of 87.
Her death was mourned all around the nation, but lacked a tribute from one peculiar, progressive place: the NBA.
Last month, the league held moments of silence for U.S. Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis following his passing in July, and again for actor Chadwick Boseman, former player Clifford Robinson and former NCAA coach Lute Olson – who all passed away in the same weekend in August.
But Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights and equality, noticeably did not get a tribute, prompting ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols to call out the league and ask why.
“In every corner of the sport there are women. All through the league office, team front offices, training staffs, coaching staffs and none of them, me included, would be able to do the jobs we do if it wasn’t for Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Nichols said. “Honestly, if you are an American woman who appreciates not having to ask your father permission to manage your finances, property, health you owe a gigantic debt to the notorious RBG. Something the WNBA recognized with a lovely video tribute before its playoff game last night.
“So, it was surprising then, and disappointing, frankly, when the NBA decided not to do the same. … if you are a league that holds equality as a core value, and I know this is a league that does, the icons of that equality can’t just be those who helped the men we see on TV, but those who paved the way for women who worked right alongside them. After all, the NBA is significantly stronger because of all the women who work in and around it.”
Nichols is one of the most recognizable media figures who covers the NBA, along with her female colleague Doris Burke – who will next month become the first woman to on a network television or radio broadcast to serve as a game analyst in the announcing crew at the NBA Finals for ESPN Radio.
Other prominent women around the league include Becky Hammon – an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs – and Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association.
Nichols closed her argument with a tribute of her own to Ginsburg.
“Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” she said. “I don’t know how much basketball you watched, but I know you had a hand in making our game better, and I know that you will be missed.”