Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James was at the forefront of heated discussions over the Orlando bubble’s fate which unfolded unexpectedly Wednesday and Thursday. The Milwaukee Bucks went on strike to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, nearly bringing the NBA Playoffs to a premature end.
In the heat of the moment, many players believed there were things bigger than basketball and pondered leaving the World Disney World campus to join in the push for racial equality and social reforms.
An emotional players meeting on Wednesday night reportedly concluded with both L.A. teams voting to stop the games and then storming out of the room with James said to have led the efforts. However, the teams unanimously agreed to resume the play the following morning.
Prior to reaching that point, James and prominent league veterans sought advice from President of the United States Barack Obama, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Former President Barack Obama spoke to James, National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul and a small group of players late Wednesday evening, advising them to play and utilize the opportunity to contextualize action they want in order to play, The Athletic has learned. James, Paul, and others wanted to seek the guidance of the 44th President of the United States (2009-2017), and on the call broached forming a committee for player action that they want Obama involved in, sources told The Athletic.
In addition, together with the league and the Board of Governors, players concocted a plan for a social justice coalition aiming to support and empower Black communities in the U.S.
Lakers guard Danny Green has since then rebuked claims that James tried to single-handedly decide the outcome of the Wednesday talks. However, he admitted the three-time NBA champion had conflicted feelings over the restart — but as did players of other teams in the room.
The NBA has announced that the playoffs will resume on Saturday with the Lakers scheduled to play Game 5 against the Portland Trail Blazers at 6 p.m. PT.
Jordan mediated between players and league owners
Before the players committed to resuming the playoffs, they called on team owners to take a more proactive role in the push for social justice.
NBA legend Michael Jordan, who also owns the Charlotte Hornets, is filling a de facto role of a mediator between the two sides.
Jordan was reportedly among the owners advocating for continuing the season, believing that the Orlando bubble can still provide the players with a powerful platform to fight for social change.
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