He was celebrating his team's best season ever. That's when he ran into the NYPD and broke his leg.

Thabo Sefolosha was getting ready for the NBA playoffs when his season came to an abrupt end.

In the early hours of April 8, 2015, one of the best basketball teams in the NBA lost a crucial player to a very unexpected injury.

Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha was celebrating with friends after his team's 96-69 thrashing of the Phoenix Suns when he allegedly suffered a fractured leg after being put in a headlock and thrown to the ground by police outside of a New York City nightclub.

Police claimed that Sefolosha had interfered with efforts to set up a crime scene in the area near where another NBA player had been stabbed.


Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images.

Sefolosha's leg injury required surgery, which put an end to his season.

Days later, he released a statement confirming he had sustained injuries from police during his arrest.

The initial reports put out by police claimed that Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic were asked "six times" to leave the scene of a crime.

One officer claimed that he "observed the defendant Thabo Sefolosha run in an aggressive manner towards the direction of Police Officer Daniel Dongvort," and "Officer Dongvort's back was facing the defendant at the time."

Meanwhile, video and eyewitness reports didn't match what police said:

The real question here is: Had the police not forcibly subdued Sefolosha, would he have been injured at all?

Without Sefolosha, the Hawks eventually lost in the playoffs to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bizarrely, Sefolosha's police-induced injury was barely mentioned in media coverage.

Remember, this is the world of sports, where people obsess over whether or not Tom Brady rubbed his (foot)balls too hard or whether or not LeBron James has a sore wrist. So, why wouldn't news of a player missing the entire postseason allegedly as the result of an interaction with the police be a part of the conversation?

Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images.

That's what The Nation's Dave Zirin wanted to know: Why doesn't the sports media seem to care?

In an article titled, "An NBA Player Is Missing the Playoffs Because the NYPD Broke His Leg — Why the Sports-Media Silence?" Zirin explores the question, concluding that one of the main reasons we haven't heard about this is because journalists self-censor (emphasis mine):

"The more I spoke to people, the clearer it was that this story has not garnered more coverage because of how the media police themselves. One person at Yahoo Sports said to me, 'We censor ourselves. We're risk-averse. White columnists feel like they'd get the story wrong, and black columnists don't want the responsibility and risk of having to be the ones to write about it. We end up in a state of paralysis.'"


And while it's certainly possible the Hawks would have lost to the Cavaliers even with Sefolosha playing, it's worth remembering why he wasn't there.

Police violence — especially the kind aimed at young black men — has been (and should be) a major story. And while Sefolosha wasn't shot like Mike Brown and wasn't choked to death like Eric Garner, his story follows the same, all-too-familiar narrative of an unarmed black man being attacked by police officers.


While this particular story is about a player missing some games, not about a person being murdered by police, it's still worth asking why we haven't heard more about it.

Because if a story involving a professional athlete can fly under the radar like this, just imagine how many other, lower-profile cases we haven't heard about.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Wikipedia

Women in country music are fighting to be heard. Literally. A study found that between 2000 and 2018, the amount of country songs on the radio by women had fallen by 66%. In 2018, just 11.3% of country songs on the radio were by women. The statistics don't exist in a vacuum. There are misogynistic attitudes behind them. Anyone remember the time radio consultant Keith Hill compared country radio stations to a salad, saying male artists are the lettuce and women are "the tomatoes of our salad"...? Air play of female country artists fell from 19% of songs on the radio to 10.4% of songs on the radio in the three years after he said that.

Not everyone thinks that women are tomatoes. This year's CMA Awards celebrated women, and Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles saw the opportunity to bring awareness to this issue and "inspire conversation about country music's need to play more women artists on radio and play listings," as Nettles put it on her Instagram. She did it in a uniquely feminine way – by making a fashion statement that also made a statement-statement.

Keep Reading Show less
popular