One of the few, in fact, maybe the only openly conservative player in the NBA, Charlotte’s Spencer Hawes, has a lot to say and would “love” to have a discussion with Hillary Clinton-endorser LeBron James.
Sitting down with The Sporting News, for an in depth follow-up to an interview he gave last year, Hawes laid his political frustrations bare:
SN: With this election being so divisive, how has that been for you, in the locker room and in your life in general?
Hawes: I still — I didn’t endorse anybody in the primary, I still haven’t endorsed anybody. Safe to say I will not be endorsing anybody. But it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating when you look at both sides. We’ve had eight years to get two candidates together to try to move forward and try to improve on things, and we literally picked the two people that could only lose to each other. That’s who we have running in our general election to be president of the United States. It’s pretty disgusting.
SN: One of the interesting twists this year is that the best player in the NBA came right out and said, “Vote for Hillary.” Did that feel uncomfortable to you?
Hawes: No, I like it. Obviously, I don’t agree with LeBron there. And that’s fine. But the ability to not agree and put that in one compartment and not judge someone’s entire character based on how they view the world or what their political beliefs are, that’s what makes us great. So yeah, I disagree with LeBron. I would love to have a discussion with him or anybody that wants to talk about it. But at the end of the day, there’s two parties, there’s two ways of doing things. Each one has been in power many times over again, and we’re still where we are.
Why would LeBron endorsing Hillary make Hawes feel “uncomfortable?” Hawes is quite possibly the only openly conservative player in the Association. If you looked up the definition of the word “alone” in the dictionary, you might very well find a picture of Spencer Hawes staring right back at you. Hawes knows better than anyone how LeBron and the rest of the league will likely vote. So why would he feel discomfort over LeBron publicly stating an opinion that 99.98% of the American-born players in the league already have?
The questions got weirder from there:
SN: Being the NBA’s most vocal conservative — maybe most vocal political-talker — does that ever become an annoyance? Is it something you’re proud of?
Hawes: I’ll say I’m proud to be conservative. It’s hard (laughs). The Republican Party has made that hard on us in this election cycle. But I still believe strongly in that. And it kind of gets back to if you have the ability to actually have a discussion about it, whatever side you’re on, that’s what makes us unique, and that’s what at some point will end up moving us forward together. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to be this time around.
A couple things here. First, Spencer Hawes cannot possibly be the NBA’s most vocal political talker. Hawes did not take the stage at the ESPY’s to blast law enforcement as dangerous to black people. Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and LeBron James did that. Nor did Hawes appear in an anti-gun television ad promoting Everytown USA, a group backed by radical, anti-Second Amendment billionaire and leftist Michael Bloomberg. Steph Curry and others did that. Lastly, Hawes, unlike liberal LeBron James, refrained from endorsing a candidate in this election cycle.
So by any objective measure, the politics of LeBron James play a far larger role than the politics of Spencer Hawes, which begs the question: Has the Sporting News asked Lebron whether he has pride as the league’s most vocal leftist? No, they haven’t. So why ask Hawes?
You know why. The interview continued:
SN: You’ve said in the past, several times, that you think more NBA players — given the fact that you’re all millionaires — should be …
Hawes: Well, I don’t think that’s, that’s one reason, but you know, that’s the one thing that jumps out at you about why you decide one way. But there’s a million other issues that can dictate.
Deft move by Hawes there, heading off the progressive interviewer to prevent him from asserting the notion that no reason exists for an NBA player to call himself a conservative, other than to protect his money.
The article continues:
SN: You are the NBPA team rep for the Hornets. How have those conversations come along, regarding national anthem protests? Have they involved the team reps, or is that mostly done at the highest level?
Hawes: I think in a good way, both the Players Association and the league have been — and I think they’ve always been — good about this, especially in terms relative to some of the other leagues or major businesses and corporations in general. I think they’ve done a really good job this year with kind of the transparency and just getting everybody on the same page. Like, “We want your ideas. What do you think you can do, or how can we help you spread your message and bring about change in a way that half the demographic doesn’t feel like they’re being slighted?”
SN: And do you feel that way? Do you feel like your feelings have been met?
Hawes: Yeah, I mean, it was already a fine for us to do anything other than stand there during the anthem. So I wasn’t too worried about that one. And I think it will continue to be stuff throughout the season continuing down that line.
So, the most openly political conservative in the NBA got himself elected team rep to the NBPA? That’s impressive. I anxiously await the Spencer Hawes vs. LeBron James debate. Sounds like James would have his hands full.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn