The Detroit Pistons were one of the first pro sports organizations to announce a massive voter education and voter mobilization effort. In this crucial swing state, in the height of the nationwide pandemic and with the embers of activism and calls for change among its players and executives, the time was ripe for action.
The Pistons partnered with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey turned the Pistons Performance Center into a large-scale registration and voting site, enlisted team employees to work the polls and embarked on a voter education campaign to get people registered and know where, when and how to vote today.
It made me happy to be a fan of the Pistons and a fan of the NBA. Today is the day all that hard work pays off. It’s not about who you vote for, it’s about making your voice heard at the ballot box. 2020 has .... well, it’s sucked, frankly. People feel powerless, they feel angry and they feel scared.
But voting is a right, no matter who tries to disenfranchise and take that right away. It’s how we have skin in the game to make the change we want — no matter how incremental and frustrating the progress.
For a movement that started in response to the killing of black and brown men and women, often at the hands of police, a voting education effort might seem like small potatoes. But voting is a powerful act. It sends a clear message about where we stand and what we support.
I’m glad to see the Pistons leading the way in this effort, and it’s caused me to reflect on one of the greatest Pistons of all time — Rasheed Wallace. One of the things I loved most about Sheed was the purity of his anger and his will to fight for what was right. Injustice would not stand.
Sometimes that meant he was barking at an official, and other times it meant loving and supporting his teammate. Eventually, it led to a call that resonates in every arena in the NBA — “Ball don’t lie!”
Sheed let this loose as a bit of karmic justice when opposing forces upset the basketball gods. A ticky-tack foul called? Don’t worry, at the free-throw line the recipient clanked his shot around and off the rim. Justice was served because you don’t get points you don’t earn. “Ball don’t lie.”
Our election day serves as a form of justice itself. A chance to tell the leaders you don’t get to keep this job if you don’t earn it. “Ballot Don’t Lie.” A line in the sand that says injustice will not stand.
While it’d be best to christen this with a Rasheed Wallace for President campaign, I’m not sure he could pass a background check so we’ll go for the next best thing — a new T-shirt.
I worked with our friends at BreakingT to design a new Ballot Don’t Lie T-Shirt. I’m hoping people buy a few, spread the message and the Detroit Pistons fan community and NBA community at large get behind this message.
Think of it like an “I Voted” sticker that you can throw in the washer and wear over and over again.
This way we can celebrate our voice, our vote and bring a little Rasheed into the electoral process. And that can’t be a bad thing.