As the NBA gets set to return and finish its 2019-20 regular season and playoffs, there still a number of hurdles that need to be crossed.
The league and the players have already agreed upon where the season will take place, with all games being played at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.. They have also agreed on how many teams will participate, when games will begin, as well as the format for the remainder of the regular season and ensuing playoffs.
However, there has been recent dissension, as a faction of players — led by Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley — questioning whether or not the NBA should return amid the social unrest throughout the country.
While the players’ coalition also has concerns over health and safety protocols with the Orlando bubble, Bradley explained the group is seeking significant change and improvement with representation in front offices, via Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN:
The coalition, Bradley said, wants to see an increase in black executives among the ranks of top basketball decision-makers. The NBA has eight black general managers, but only four with final authority on basketball decisions. The NBA has seven black head coaches. Toronto’s Masai Ujiri has the title of president and full authority on basketball.
“The actual act of sitting out doesn’t directly fight systemic racism,” Bradley said. “But it does highlight the reality that without black athletes, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. The league has a responsibility to our communities in helping to empower us — just as we have made the NBA brand strong.”
In addition to health and safety concerns brought on by the pandemic, the players have also let it be known that they may not be comfortable playing right now due to the current social climate in the country brought on by racial injustice and police brutality.
In addition to Bradley, Dwight Howard has also publicly addressed the possibility of returning. While Howard acknowledged he has a strong desire to win a championship with the Lakers, he believes his — and others’ — focus must first go to social issues.
The NBA is targeting July 30 for the resumption of the season, so there still is some time to get all of these issues sorted out. It will take both the players and the league collaborating, considering it is the former that will be risking their own health by going to Orlando.
The next step would be the NBA committing to more balanced hiring and representation throughout the league.