WHILE several NBA personalities have spoken up against the season restart, concerned with the negative effect it could make on the Black Lives Movement apart from virus concerns, some have argued that it will actually help with the ongoing battle for racial equality.
Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, part of the 22-team NBA field that will see action at Disney World in Orlando, reportedly said in a meeting with members of the players union that he opposed the league restart.
Irving had season-ending shoulder surgery in March.
Around 80 players reportedly joined an online meeting with Irving, vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, to discuss the player concerns about the NBA restart plan.
The meeting was initially set to discuss player concerns including injuries and virus protocols with Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris, Sacramento Kings’ Harrison Barnes, Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, among others.
Howard backs Kyrie
“I agree with Kyrie. Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction,” LA Lakers center Dwight Howard said in a statement.
LeBron James, Irving’s former teammate, did not join the meeting, according to reports, and while preparing for the league restart, is also working to boost voter turnout for the 2020 US presidential election by forming More Than a Vote with current and former basketball players.
Among those with James in the endeavor are former NBA player Jalen Rose, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, Skylar Diggins-Smith of the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us,” James told the New York Times.
“We feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door. How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
Timing's not right, says Jackson
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson, who was close with George Floyd and calls him his twin, said the timing of the restart doesn’t help BLM.
“I love the NBA, man. That's my family. But now ain't the time to be playing basketball,” said Jackson in an Instagram video.
“Now ain't the time. Playing basketball is going to do one thing: take all the attention off the task at hand right now and what we're fighting for."
Jackson had earlier vowed to use his platform and “everything I have to get a conviction” for the four Minneapolis police officers who were fired after Floyd’s death.
LA Clippers guard Lou Williams also expressed concerns about the NBA restarting amid protests against racial injustice, but Austin Rivers of the Houston Rockets said getting back on court will help players support the movement.
“With this money you could help out even more people and continue to give more importantly your time and energy towards the BLM movement. Which I’m 100% on board with,” Rivers posted on Instagram.
“Because change needs to happen and injustice has been going on too long. But also….. Not to mention there are plenty of NBA players I know who need them paychecks…99% of the NBA hasn’t made the money a guy like Kyrie has.”
Floyd died last month after pleading that he could not breathe as a police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck. Reports say officers responded to a call from a grocery store claiming Floyd used a forged check.