Los Angeles Lakers teammates Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard have been among the most outspoken members of the players’ coalition in raising concerns over restarting the 2019-20 NBA season amid the efforts being made to combat racial injustice.
The return-to-play plan for 22 teams to finish out the year in a bubble environment at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, has been met with majority support from players. However, there is still a group that felt uneasy about the NBA’s intention to move forward without any input from all players on how to ensure it will not distract from larger issues.
Of course, players like Howard and Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving have received their fair share of criticism for what many have deemed as more setbacks to resuming the season. Regardless, it has not deterred efforts to get owners and players alike on the same page.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Howard offered up some clarity on their goal to continue sparking true change, noting the coalition is particularly beneficial to those who may be hesitant to personally raise concerns:
“Contrary to popular belief, We are not attempting to halt the Resumption of the basketball season in Orlando. It would be silly to think we could stop a force as powerful as the NBA, nor would we ant to considering the wonderful opportunity they have afforded us.
“Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency on the things that concern us collectively. Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to.
“Some of these players may have leaders that could speak for them but unfortunately as history shows, leaders sometimes become self serving and forget the people that they are supposed to represent. Some leaders even use fear and intimidation to make sure they serve their own agendas, while forgetting the feelings of their people.
“In a time like this where we are fighting for equal rights it would be contradictory if we told our own players to not play and do as we say. We are not here to dictate, nor do we have the power to do so. We want to make sure communication is taking place openly with out fear.
“As radical as Kyrie may sound, he is 100% correct. We are no longer slaves, so every man has a right to transparency in order to make sound decisions. And as Avery said, in the decisions we make, be sure we are thinking of everyone collectively and not moving based off of selfish agendas.
“If any one of us chooses to sit, it has nothing to do with another player’s right to play. Not once has any of us told one of our fellow brethren not to go to the Orlando Bubble Experiment and we stressed that in our meetings.
“We spoke about our individual stances, which again, as men and women with free speech we are entitled to do so. We stressed the importance of unity amongst us even if we have a difference in opinion.
“This has been our position, but as always judgements and opinions were formed based on bits and pieces of information that were put out.
“We get it, we know the divide and conquer agenda that everyone easily plays in to. Ostracize those who speak against what’s convenient. Even if they are our fellow brothers, tarnish their names and throw them away. You should know how the story goes by now.
“Either way, regardless of what criticism and retribution we face, we still want to protect the players who are afraid to protect themselves. We will ask all the uncomfortable questions that can lead us all to truth and unity. Even if we are sacrificed and disliked, it will better everyone as a whole in knowing their feelings as human beings are just as relevant as the ones who dominate.
“The game will go on with or without those who decide not to play because like we are taught, we are easily replaceable. We are also in full support of our brothers whether we decided to enter or not enter the Orlando bubble. We want to see all of you Win! We want to see you win in life.
“We support the NBA but in order to do that properly we must support every single one of us that represents that name.”
Howard’s stance is proof of how important it is to keep the fight against systemic racism going considering he arguably has more to lose than any player that has questioned restarting the season. After all, he has a chance to solidify his legacy by winning his first championship with a Lakers team that has been pegged as title favorites in an unprecedented year.
Despite Howard having an opportunity to put the cherry on top of a Hall of Fame resume, it does not exceed his desire to make sure that all the action that has been taken since the death of George Floyd has not been in vain.
Bradley spoke on behalf of the players to call on owners to take direct action alongside them in using their platforms to promote change rather than simply voice their support from the sidelines.
Fortunately, the Lakers are among the teams that have since rallied behind them by bringing in more representation to the front office with the hiring of Dr. Karida Brown as the director of racial equity & action to help the team in their efforts to usher in change within the community.
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