The NBA’s All-Star weekend got off to an early start on Thursday with a $30,000-a-plate fundraiser for President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee at the home of Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter.
Among those seated at the dinner on Carter's personal full-size basketball court were Steve Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, the L.A. Clippers' Chris Paul, NBA Commissioner David Stern and retired luminaries Alonzo Mourning and Earvin "Magic" Johnson. Miami Heat stars LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade sent checks, though they couldn't make the event due to a work conflict (they were busy shutting down the New York Knicks, 102-88).
Clearly, the NBA knows how to play politics.
In all, the league's players, owners and executives have contributed $2.6 million to federal candidates and political committees since the start of 2009, according to research by the Center for Responsive Politics. The NBA has shown a strong preference for Democrats over those years. About $1.6 million, or 61 percent, of the donations linked to the NBA since 2009 have gone to Dems.
That makes professional basketball more liberal than pro football, dollarwise. During the same time frame, individuals associated with the NFL, plus its political action committee (the NBA doesn't have one of those), have given almost the same amount as those connected to the NBA -- $2.8 million -- but they've sent 58 percent of it to Republicans. OpenSecrets Blog previously reported on that league's political efforts here.
...The NBA's political plays don't stop with campaign contributions. Since 2009, the league has spent $310,000 lobbying the federal government. One of its primary issues: how NBA content, such as game footage, can be used by others, said Philip Hochburg, a longtime lobbyist for the NBA, in an interview with OpenSecrets Blog.
Other prominent concerns include protecting the league’s collectively bargained drug testing program and determining royalty payments from cable and satellite broadcasts.