President Trump’s executive order last week banning entry into the nation from several predominantly Muslim countries can best be described as a charlie-foxtrot. Among those caught in the wave of uncertainty following the order was the National Basketball Association. From nba.com:
The NBA, its players and its coaches have waded into political waters in the months before and since the November election. But this week politics bled into the NBA when President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Milwaukee Bucks rookie Thon Maker and Los Angeles Lakers veteran Luol Deng both are natives of Sudan, one of the countries subject to the temporary ban along with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
The Bucks were concerned about Maker’s ability to travel freely with the team back to the United States from its game Friday in Toronto. The NBA released a statement saying it has contacted the State Department for information on how the restriction might affect personnel from the seven countries.
Fortunately, there were no initial negative consequences for the Bucks. From ESPN:
Bucks coach Jason Kidd, in announcing Saturday that Maker would start, confirmed that Maker had made it to Milwaukee without incident. Maker scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds in eight minutes in Friday night’s 102-86 loss at Toronto, where he had lived for two years prior to being drafted in 2016 by Milwaukee.
However, the fact that Maker was able to re-enter the country from Toronto does not mean there are any losses involved. Indeed, there were many unseen consequences from the executive order:
- Coach Kidd had to spend time devising an emergency game plan in case Maker was detained. This subtracted from his time focusing on a “true” game plan where all his players can be used. This may have contributed to their 112-108 loss to Boston on Saturday.
- NBA and team lawyers have been scurrying to get clarification on the new rules, detracting from other duties
- State Department officials have been scurrying to answer the questions poised by the NBA and team lawyers, detracting from other duties
- Maker himself (and likely his teammates) were distracted by this non-basketball issue, diverting attention away from practice and game planning (again, possibly contributing to the loss on Saturday).
The list above is hardly exhaustive. Further, we can imagine this uncertainty, and similar costs, multiplied across the nation for all kinds of industries and employers. These disruptions, while perhaps at a cost of only a few thousand dollars each (a number I arbitrarily made up. Could be higher/lower), multiplied across millions of individuals becomes a great sum.
One final NBA-specific point: 90 days (the length of the ban) seems small in the scheme of things. But, for the NBA, that is half their season. This ban is no small thing for the Association.