Courtesy of Adi Joseph
SN: With this election being so divisive, how has that been for you, in the locker room and in your life in general?
Hawes: I still — I didn’t endorse anybody in the primary, I still haven’t endorsed anybody. Safe to say I will not be endorsing anybody. But it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating when you look at both sides. We’ve had eight years to get two candidates together to try to move forward and try to improve on things, and we literally picked the two people that could only lose to each other. That’s who we have running in our general election to be president of the United States. It’s pretty disgusting.
SN: One of the interesting twists this year is that the best player in the NBA came right out and said, “Vote for Hillary.” Did that feel uncomfortable to you?
Hawes: No, I like it. Obviously, I don’t agree with LeBron there. And that’s fine. But the ability to not agree and put that in one compartment and not judge someone’s entire character based on how they view the world or what their political beliefs are, that’s what makes us great. So yeah, I disagree with LeBron. I would love to have a discussion with him or anybody that wants to talk about it. But at the end of the day, there’s two parties, there’s two ways of doing things. Each one has been in power many times over again, and we’re still where we are.
SN: Those discussions. In the locker room, is it coming up more now?
Hawes: Yeah, I think so. I think the publicity — every four years, there’s a ton of publicity. The thing that frustrates me on both sides are the generalizations that if you’re a conservative, you go so far one way. You’ve got to be a Trump guy if you’re conservative. And at the same time, the same thing. If you’re a liberal, you’ve got to be a socialist. The majority of the country is in the middle. The primary election cycle ruins both candidates’ opportunities to be moderate. And that’s where we find ourselves. And in this election, you get two candidates that go even further and further. That’s where we find ourselves, watching these debates.
SN: One thing I find interesting is you came into the league in 2008, the year to be a Democrat for a lot of NBA players.
Hawes: Yeah, I only got a year of the Bush tax cuts!
SN: So as a rookie, so did you feel — in the year the first black president was running, and you’re a newcomer to the NBA locker room — how did that feel for you? Did you have the same views back then?
Hawes: Well, I had Brad Miller on my side, so (laughs). But yeah, I was probably more that way back then. A lot of people go to college and kind of maybe calm themselves down. I didn’t really have a lot of that. If anything, it made me side more that way. But I think if you know what you’re talking about and can have a discussion about it, I think people respect that on either side. If you’re just coming out blurting the talking points that you see on cable news, no one really has time for that. But if you actually take your time. Most people in an interview like this would be like, “So, are you endorsing Trump?!” And you’d be like, “Yeah, I like what he said about this!” And that’s the headline, and that’s all you get.
But I think guys respect if you can really sit down and have a conversation about why you are the way you are. I remember talking to a guy back when I was in Philly. We were talking about it, we were talking about social issues and welfare, and he said, “I grew up on welfare. That’s how we ate.” And that wasn’t my experience. I had one view of it, then you have a discussion with him, and you sit down and you say, all right, everybody comes from somewhere, different places, and a lot of my upbringing probably shaped where I find myself now, just as everybody’s does.
SN: Being the NBA’s most vocal conservative — maybe most vocal political-talker — does that ever become an annoyance? Is it something you’re proud of?
Hawes: I’ll say I’m proud to be conservative. It’s hard (laughs). The Republican Party has made that hard on us in this election cycle. But I still believe strongly in that. And it kind of gets back to if you have the ability to actually have a discussion about it, whatever side you’re on, that’s what makes us unique, and that’s what at some point will end up moving us forward together. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to be this time around.
SN: You’ve said in the past, several times, that you think more NBA players — given the fact that you’re all millionaires — should be …
Hawes: Well, I don’t think that’s, that’s one reason, but you know, that’s the one thing that jumps out at you about why you decide one way. But there’s a million other issues that can dictate.
SN: One of the things I’m guessing that you’re least happy about is the fact that race has become a major talking point, that Trump is the favorite among white voters and has very little minority support. You, as an NBA player, how does that affect you?
Hawes: I don’t think that much. I mean, I think growing up, that’s one of the beautiful things about our game. Go down to our locker room, and you’ve got guys from how many different countries, how many different backgrounds, every corner of this country. So you get an opportunity to shape that discussion. And like I said, by talking to a guy on welfare, you learn how many different ways there are to get to where you are.
It is a tough time. It is obviously very racially charged, in a lot of spheres, not just the presidential race. But I think that’s one of the coolest things that we have the opportunity to do, to meet so many different people, to strike up relationships with so many different people that you would probably never come into contact with if not for this sport.
SN: You are the NBPA team rep for the Hornets. How have those conversations come along, regarding national anthem protests? Have they involved the team reps, or is that mostly done at the highest level?
Hawes: I think in a good way, both the Players Association and the league have been — and I think they’ve always been — good about this, especially in terms relative to some of the other leagues or major businesses and corporations in general. I think they’ve done a really good job this year with kind of the transparency and just getting everybody on the same page. Like, “We want your ideas. What do you think you can do, or how can we help you spread your message and bring about change in a way that half the demographic doesn’t feel like they’re being slighted?”
SN: And do you feel that way? Do you feel like your feelings have been met?
Hawes: Yeah, I mean, it was already a fine for us to do anything other than stand there during the anthem. So I wasn’t too worried about that one. And I think it will continue to be stuff throughout the season continuing down that line.