Ever since the 2019-20 NBA season was shut down in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic back in March, the league was still hopeful about the prospect of a return to action with the support of its players.
The NBA has officially settled on a return-to-play plan for 22 teams to finish out the year in a bubble environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, Fla. However, there have since been a number of players to express their concern with bringing basketball back in the midst of all that is being done to protest racial injustice.
National Basketball Players Association vice president Kyrie Irving made his stand against resuming the season clear citing that it would distract from the real issues at hand. With Los Angeles Lakers teammates Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley among the handful of players to agree with Irving, it has naturally led to speculation regarding how this affects the league’s plans for the end of July.
While acknowledging the several challenges and concerns at hand, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed confidence a resolution would be reached during an on ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” with Mike Greenberg:
“I can only say it may not be for everyone. It will entail enormous sacrifice on behalf of players, coaches and referees. Listen, it’s not an ideal situation. We are trying to find a way to our own normal in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of essentially a recession or worse with 40 million unemployed, and now with enormous social unrest in the country.
“And so as we work through these issues, I can understand how some players might feel that it’s not for them. It could be for a host of reasons. It may be for family reasons, it may be for health reasons they have, or it may be because they feel — as some players have said very recently — that their time is best spent elsewhere.
“So again, we’re dealing with a Players Association representing 450 guys from 22 teams when you include two-way players; talking about bringing roughly 375 players to Orlando, so it’s not surprising there might not be a uniform view among those players. But my sense is we’re going to be able to work through most of those issues over the next few weeks.”
Irving recently held a conference call that featured nearly 100 NBA players discussing the negatives that come with finishing out the year. Aside from their own personal safety of being quarantined in a bubble for a truncated season, they feel the timing would be taking sway from all the efforts that have been made to support the movement.
LeBron James was reportedly one of the notable players to skip the conference call due to his confidence that playing basketball will not have any impact on his social work. Meanwhile, others have argued that bringing the season back could actually provide players with a bigger platform to bring attention to the issues at hand.
Either way, it appears owners and teams throughout the league still intend to crown a champion this year.