Brooklyn Nets All-star and NBPA Vice President Kyrie Irving led a call with 80 plus players on Friday to discuss league’s resumption. Several players spoke up about not supporting resumed season due to nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality. In addition, Donovan Mitchell, Dwight Howard, and Carmelo Anthony spoke out about possibly sitting out for the reason stating social/COVID-19 as the reason. Their reservations due to the lack of information about the proposed ‘bubble’ also led them to make that choice.
Stop it…… https://t.co/1pGMxN0ap3
— Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell) June 13, 2020
Originally Kyrie was supposed to sit out for the season due to shoulder injury. In previous calls, he asked as an injured player if he could join the bubble to support his team. His questions were limited to players’ treatment in the bubble and if they will be provided with adequate services. It surprised several players that he changed the narrative to social reform. Top contenders dismissed Kyrie’s plea to sit out the season including former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James
Kyrie Irving pits himself against the league’s establishment
“I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systemic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy”
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, nationwide protests erupted. Kyrie Irving urged the players to make a stand and sit out the season to fight racial injustice. He believes resumption of the season will move the discussion from police brutality to the game played the night before. Consequently, the entire conversation will be suppressed and the progress made will become irrelevant.
“I’m willing to give up everything I have for social reform”
-Kyrie Irving voiced his support for the black community
However, there is significant support to resume the season among league superstars, most of whom are on playoff contenders. One among them is the front runner for MVP this season, LeBron James. He came out in support of league’s resumption saying it will not affect his ability to inspire “meaningful change in society”. Above all, he believes it will provide them with a platform to reach out to the country and won’t affect his push for social change.
“I’m not as interested in him (Kyrie Irving) as the messenger than I am in the message,” one Western Conference player told ESPN on Friday.
Where this leads the NBA now remains unclear. If bottom seeded players in both conferences refuse to return, it will cause mass defection outside of top contenders in NBA playoffs.