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On David Fizdale and Leadership

Fizdale’s voice and platform in Memphis is a powerful one.

NBA: Playoffs-San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

During this emotionally charged period in American history, more and more people are calling for men and women in leadership positions to take sides.

No one has to ask where David Fizdale stands.

Fizdale, Head Coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, recently spoke with Wendi C. Thomas of The Undefeated and MLK50 Memphis, about a variety of issues ranging from the removal of Confederate monuments, the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and more.

Fizdale has not shied away from these types of topics in his short time at the helm of the Grizzlies. He has been open about his feelings on race and the issues of his childhood in symposiums and interviews before. But this is a direct and strong response to the current climate of American race relations, even going up to the point of calling out and criticizing President Trump himself. Other NBA head coaches like Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich have been critical of the President, but in the wake of Charlottesville Fizdale’s remarks are especially powerful...and are likely to not be popular among all who hear them in the Memphis Grizzlies fan base.

But that is what leadership is. Speaking out on your beliefs, taking a stand, and valuing that over the bottom line. In a city like Memphis, where according to 2015 demographic data almost 63% of the population is black, where the National Civil Rights Museum is just blocks away from FedExForum, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated... the debate over Confederate monuments and racism is not just about history. It is about the present, the here and now, and now more than ever distinct voices are needed to speak out against hate and bigotry.

This is a basketball blog. You reading this could likely care less about the political leanings of a blogger. But after this past week and what has occurred in Virginia and in cities and states across this land, people have had their passions ignited and intensified. It has led to many questioning what leadership exists in local, state, and federal government. Taking a stand for beliefs isn’t going to make you universally beloved. But it will make you a guiding light for those who agree with you, and in the Memphis community it will make you someone worthy of investing in.

David Fizdale took a stand this week and showed what leadership is. As America continues to heal from the events in Charlottesville, and tries to figure out just what kind of nation it wants to be moving forward, it is good to know that at least in Memphis there are those who will use their platform for moving forward together. That is needed now more than ever.

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