News & Politics

Watch the Anti-Redskins Commercial That Will Air During the NBA Finals

Viewers in Washington and other major cities will see the ad.

Photograph via Shutterstock.

The San Antonio Spurs won’t be the only ones facing heat during Game 3 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night. Washington’s NFL team will be the target of a 60-second advertisement condemning its name that is scheduled to air during halftime in seven major metropolitan areas, including DC.

Opponents of the name “Redskins” are capitalizing on racist comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that forced him to sell the team and resulted in his expulsion from the NBA. 

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, a tribe in Northern California, also bought airtime in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California, to broadcast a shortened version of “Proud to Be,” a two-minute video highlighting terms Native Americans uses to describe themselves first published shortly before the Super Bowl.

“Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing they don’t,” the narrator says before the screen cuts to a still image of a burgundy-and-gold football helmet.

“We want to draw attention to the pain,” Marshall McCay, the Yocha Dehe tribal chairman, says in a video explaining why his tribe is taking up against the Washington franchise’s name. “The R-word is as derogatory a slur as the N-word. The name comes directly from bounty hunting.”

The team name, according to official team lore, comes from original owner George Preston Marshall’s desire to “honor” William “Lone Star” Dietz, a coach whose professed Native American ancestry is widely disputed. Most dictionaries define “redskin” as a slur against Native Americans.

The National Council of American Indians and Oneida Indian Nation produced the original spot, but couldn’t scratch together the money to buy ad time during February’s big game, for which 30 seconds of commercial time cost $4 million.

But the NBA Finals are still a big platform. More than 18.7 million people tuned in to Game 2 between the Spurs and Miami Heat on Sunday night, according to Nielsen.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.