Los Angeles Lakers players were vocal in last week’s meetings sparked by the Milwaukee Bucks deciding to protest and boycott in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Players were pondering whether to resume the NBA Playoffs while racism and police brutality are on everyone’s minds again. And the athletes, including three-time NBA champion LeBron James, reportedly came very close to concluding on the emotional night they should have leave the bubble and actively joined the push for social justice.
For many Lakers players, social activism is an important part of their lives. And it certainly played a big part in their decision to be at the forefront of the heated conversations over the fate of the season.
Danny Green has already spoken up about the role James played in those meetings, refuting many rumors swirling in the aftermath. And in an interview with GQ’s Michael Pina, Jared Dudley provided an additional insight into his role and how the Lakers approached matters:
“I am vocal and behind the scenes in our team meetings and having conversations with LeBron, AD. But Markieff Morris was vocal with me. Rondo was vocal. You don’t hear their names. JR Smith, he talked in the main meeting. And hearing these guys speak about something that’s bigger than basketball, they made me think about life and basketball in a different way. My role was just having conversations. Laying out the good and the bad. What would be the plan? Is that plan good enough for what we’re trying to do? When I heard those players spoke to Obama, I thought ‘man that’s phenomenal.’ For us to make a plan you’ve got to seek the right people and get the right knowledge and information.
“So for me it was, let’s not make a decision off emotion. It was an emotional time in the sense of it just happened, Milwaukee just boycotted, we didn’t know what was going on, we’re mad and pissed off about another unarmed Black person getting shot. We’re in the bubble away from family and friends for seven, eight weeks. We can’t do anything. You had all that bottled up. So I think it’s hard to make a decision like that in 24 hours. My role was keeping the dialogue, updating the information, and that’s just on my team. I loved our team and the communication we had.”
After heated discussions that continued overnight and involved calls with Michael Jordan and President Barack Obama, the players voted to stay in Orlando to resume the games.
But they first sought promises from the NBA and team owners they would take an active role in the efforts to bring a meaningful change, resulting in an agreement over joint social actions going forward.
Green felt playoffs would resume, but saw players were ‘willing to walk away’
Many players were caught by surprise by Milwaukee’s decision to sit out their playoff game against the Orlando Magic and the circumstances surely contributed to how fervid discussions were on Wednesday night.
Green says the atmosphere in the meeting was indeed intense and the emotional players were ready to make drastic decisions.
But the guard added that deep down he felt an agreement allowing the playoffs to resume would be reached. “It was kind of up in the air, 50-50,” Green reflected. “I had a strong sense it wouldn’t be (cancelled).
“But if we don’t stand for anything, we won’t get anything done. So we were willing to walk away if we had to.”
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