Why Portland Won't Have MLK Day Matinee

(I know I'm going to catch some heat for this... I already have. Here it is anyway. Please keep an open mind. Thanks.)

Today is MLK Day, and many NBA teams are playing a matinee at home... Teams like New York, Washington, Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans... But, not Portland.

Many, many years ago, there was an Oregon state law prohibiting "colored" folk from moving here. As a result, those of African decent who wanted to move West and start anew moved to Los Angeles, San Francisco or Seattle... Not Portland.

This city is too white, plain and simple. As Bill Simmons once put it, a Blazers game is the whitest NBA experience outside of the state of Utah. The demographics back up that statement, too. According to Wikipedia, the population within the city of Portland is 74.1% white, 6.7% Asian and 6.6% black. The NBA schedule in the last eleven years backs up this assertion, as well. Portland has only played at home once on MLK Day since it was first recognized in all 50 states in 2000, and that one time was not a matinee.

1/18/2010 at WAS x at MEM OKC 2pm ET POR 1pm ET PHX 5:30pm ET
1/19/2009 MIL 7pm x at BOS TOR 2pm ET at GSW DET 5:30pm ET
1/21/2008 at ATL at LAC x POR 2pm ET DAL 1pm ET CHI 4:30pm ET
1/15/2007 x at WAS at MEM BOS 2pm ET UTA 1pm ET PHX 6:30 ET
1/16/2006 x at LAC x HOU 2pm ET PHI 1pm ET SAS 7pm ET
1/17/2005 x at LAL at DET NJN 2pm ET at SAS HOU 7pm ET
1/19/2004 x at GSW at LAL IND 2pm ET CHI 1pm ET HOU 6:30pm ET
1/20/2003 at MEM NJN 6pm at NOH CHI 12pm ET DEN 1pm ET POR 4pm ET
1/21/2002 x at GSW x HOU 2pm ET at MIN at SAC
1/15/2001 x HOU 7pm x NJN 2:30pm ET MIL 1pm ET NA
1/17/2000 x x x MIL 2pm ET BOS 1pm ET NA


However, Atlanta, Washington and Memphis (since 2002) have almost always played a home game on MLK Day, with Atlanta and Washington always making it a matinee. Also, since 2000, Utah (whiter than Portland) has only hosted twice on MLK Day, none of which were matinees. Arizona was one of the last, if not the last, state to hold out on making MLK Day a national holiday; John McCain even voted against it. The last time a home game was played in Phoenix on MLK Day was in 1997, and that was an evening game, as well.

What the NBA doesn't seem to understand, is that this is not just a holiday for black people, but for ALL people, regardless of color or creed. We all are the target of some kind of discrimination at some point in our lives, and we all need to learn a better understanding of love, unity and peace. It is understandable that the NBA would want to host a special matinee in places with large black populations on a holiday named for a black man. While it may be unintentional, I still find it ironic that a league that works so hard to promote itself as all-inclusive and without borders still chooses to engage in a form of subtle, socially accepted discrimination.

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