In recent days there’s been significant backlash from some NBA players who do not want to continue the NBA season. Notably, Kyrie Irving who once spoke at length about the earth being flat organized a call last Friday night to discuss not playing in the bubble because of racial injustice and health concerns related to the coronavirus.
The call had over 80 players who reportedly discussed their concerns over the NBA’s planned return on July 30th in a pixie dust bubble at Walt Disney World. KD, Carmelo, Dwight Howard, and Donovan Mitchell were on the call. A call which did not include LeBron James and several other top players in the NBA.
Irving reportedly said “I don’t support going into Orlando,” and went on to say “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls–t. Something smells a little fishy.” Clearly Kyrie believes the players should focus their attention on the social causes rather than playing basketball in a bubble.
Agree or disagree with Irving’s point, it is clear that racial injustice change does need to occur in America. The real question is if the NBA forgoes the rest of the season will that have the kind of impact that Irving is fighting for or would more good come from the NBA resuming its season in a bubble.
Clearly this is a complicated topic that must be viewed from all angles. On the one hand, the impact of players refusing to play the rest of the season sends a powerful message that players are willing to fight for real social change by walking away from millions of dollars. While on the other hand, many NBA players believe they can have more impact on social change by restarting the season. Essentially, staying visible and using the media opportunities which come along with being in the NBA provides players a platform to impact change.
Then there are the monetary concerns of not playing, which do need to be taking into consideration. The financial impact of not playing for the NBA and its players would be staggering not just for this season but for several seasons to follow. If NBA players decided to cancel the season the NBA could be looking at billions of dollars of lost revenue over the coming years. In fact, the new CBA which was recently signed could be torn up by the owners if the season was stopped by the players.
On Monday several NBA and WNBA players came together and sent the following statement to ESPN.
“We are a group of men and women from different teams and industries that are normally painted as opponents, but have put our egos and differences aside to make sure we stand united and demand honesty during this uncertain time,” the coalition said.
“Native indigenous African Caribbean men and women entertaining the world, we will continue to use our voices and platforms for positive change and truth.
“We are truly at an inflection point in history where as a collective community, we can band together — UNIFY — and move as one. We need all our people with us and we will stand together in solidarity.
“As an oppressed community we are going on 500-plus years of being systemically targeted, used for our IP [intellectual property]/Talent, and also still being killed by the very people that are supposed to ‘protect and serve’ us.
“WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
“We are combating the issues that matter most: We will not accept the racial injustices that continue to be ignored in our communities. We will not be kept in the dark when it comes to our health and well-being. And we will not ignore the financial motivations/expectations that have prevented us historically from making sound decisions.
“This is not about individual players, athletes or entertainers. This is about our group of strong men and women uniting for change. We have our respective fields, however, we will not just shut up and play to distract us from what this whole system has been about: Use and Abuse.
“We are all fathers, daughters, leaders and so much more. So what is our BIG picture? We are in this for UNITY and CHANGE!”
LBJ Wants To Play
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reports.
James has long been adamant about the NBA moving forward with its plan to continue, even amid the social unrest the country is in right now. One of the reasons Irving and other players cited to pause on the league’s return was the current state of the country right now.
Protests have broken out en masse across the country because of the killing of George Floyd and a number of other unarmed Black people at the hands of the police. Many NBA players, including Irving, have taken to the streets in those protests.
He believes that the NBA’s return would provide people with a distraction from those protests. But James doesn’t believe those things are mutually exclusive.
James believes he can play basketball and affect social change all at once, Amick reports.
The reality is in the year 2020 racial injustice is real and everything must be done to remove it from the fabric of our society.
Deciding to play or not play seems to be irrelevant as I believe both options can have a real impact on social injustice reform. But when I factor in the monetary losses of not playing and the long term outlook of what that could do to the players’ wallets – not playing seems like a bad financial decision. Not playing would also affect the players’ ability to give back to their causes with dollars.
While I really want to see the NBA play the remainder of their season from there pixie dust filled bubble, I do understand the point that Irving and the players’ coalition is making. I just hope that the players are able to unify across the league and if there are games I really don’t want to see roasters full of G-League players.
As for Irving, even Uncle Drew knows the earth isn’t flat, but you are indeed correct that racial injustice needs to stop.