Kelly Tshibaka: On the STAND podcast, basketball, civil rights, and the transformation of a league, a told by Pete Babcock, who was part of its history

Kelly and Niki Tshibaka in an interview with Dr. Joel Freeman and Peter Babcock. Freeman served as a character coach for the NBA, and Pete Babcock is a former NBA general manager and executive.


As we close out Black History Month, I was reflecting on how America’s black history is present in many aspects of our lives, even in areas we don’t typically associate with it. One such place is in the National Basketball Association. 

On a recent episode of STAND with Kelly & Niki Tshibaka, Pete Babcock, the former general manager for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, and San Diego Clippers, explained how the history of the NBA is extremely important to the league.

“I was always interested in…how the league went from being an all-white league to now a predominant African-American league,” Babcock said, “…and how the civil rights movement benefited from the National Basketball Association, and the game of basketball benefited from the civil rights movement. There’s so much overlap between the two.” 

Although the civil rights movement is likely the furthest thing from one’s mind when watching NBA basketball games, the two are inextricably linked together. Each impacted the other in critical ways, and the lasting mutual effect the civil rights movement and the NBA have had can still be observed in the league today.

Babcock managed NBA teams during the NBA’s process of desegregation and retold the story of the NBA’s sometimes-painful journey on the show. In fact, Babcock pointed out that the desegregation of the NBA has had lasting positive effects on the players. 

A critical aspect of the civil rights movement was breaking the false image of the “uneducated vagabond” that was so strongly perpetuated against the black community. With the emergence of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Booker T. Washington, this stereotype was shattered. It is here we can see one of the subtler parallels between the NBA and the civil rights movement.

Babcock explained that the NBA works to not only train the players physically, but also to improve them as people as well, stating, “the total human being is more important than just the plain skill of the player.”

Thus, the emphasis on character that was encouraged by leaders of the civil rights movement has lasted past the civil rights movement and is still seen in the attitude of NBA players, managers, and coaches today.

Perhaps just as important as his emphasis on the civil rights movement, Babcock also discussed how an accurate history is critical to the foundation of the NBA. He spoke at length about Black History 365 (BH365), a comprehensive history curriculum that he contributed to with Dr. Joel Freeman. 

Founded and created by Drs. Joel Freeman and Walter Miltion Jr., BH365 was created with collaboration and input from a diverse and broad spectrum of voices, including Dr. Alveda King, Andrew Young, Smokey Robinson, NBA leaders, and many more. BH365 is a curriculum that teaches black history in full.

Unlike other curriculums that push critical race theory and encourage African Americans to embrace a victim mentality, BH365 is a truth-centric and inclusive account of black history. 

Dr. Freeman discussed the importance of emphasizing the creativity and genius of Ancient Africa before diving into the darker side of black history. “We talk about the slave rebellions, because we wanted to show that hardly anyone was docile. There were a lot of passive aggressive ways of fighting against this [slavery].” 

This Black History Month is a time to reflect on the lasting impact the civil rights movement has had on hearts, minds, and character. This impact has notably given us the strong players we can see in the NBA today. It’s also a time to underscore the importance of having a comprehensive view of history, for if we forget what we have learned, we are surely doomed to repeat it.

If you’d like to hear more about how the civil rights movement has given us the NBA we know today, or learn more about BH365, you won’t want to miss Pete Babcock and Dr. Joel Freeman’s interview on STAND. You can also view the episode on YouTube, Rumble, and your podcast streaming platform.

Kelly Tshibaka is the host of the podcast, TV, and radio show STAND, and the 2022 Alaska Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. She co-hosts the show with her husband, Niki Tshibaka.


  1. Civil Rights? Never heard of em. Are they the ones that give feral blacks the right to clean out our shopping centers and force retail stores to lock merchandise behind pleixglass? Those civil rights?
    Or are we talking about the ones that allow blacks to destroy public monuments without fear of prosecution, while stealing and burning a gay pride flag in Iowa gets 15 years in prison?
    Sorry for my ignorance, I had an Anchorage School District education.

  2. I absolutely love Kelly and Niki for what they stand, for as well as their abilities to lead by example, not by rhetoric.

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