The Los Angeles Lakers were without a doubt one of the favorites to win the 2020 NBA Finals before the season was shut down and postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Now with play seemingly poised to return in Orlando, Fla.,, the Lakers remain among the favorites, though questions about whether players should return and finish this season has now become a major discussion.
Brooklyn Nets superstar Kyrie Irving has been the driving force for players not returning, but among those who have been in support of that are a pair of Los Angeles Lakers in Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley. Howard has been extremely outspoken and released a statement supporting Kyrie and spoke in support during a massive Zoom call amongst players, as did Bradley.
On the other hand however, LeBron James has been open before the recent dissension about wanting to return and finishing the season. On the surface, one could think it would lead to something of a fracture within the Lakers.
But according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, that isn’t the case as players say there is no issue within the team:
“[There’s] no divide,” one Lakers player told ESPN.
“Still have some time to figure things out as a league and as a team,” another Lakers player told ESPN.
Players on the same team having differing opinions on major topics is nothing new. Everybody is their own individual and has their own viewpoints so for every player to not have the same opinion doesn’t automatically mean there could be a divide among the team. This situation however, is different than any other possibly in the history of sports.
The NBA has never been in a situation like this and the return plan has been agreed to by both the owners and the players representatives. But players do have the option of not returning for whatever reason they choose, and for the Lakers these are two players who are a big part of their championship hopes.
If Howard and Bradley were to choose to not play, the Lakers would be in a very difficult position. Of course, the issues at hand are far greater than the game of basketball.
Not only is this about the health and safety of these players but also the continued social injustices facing African-Americans in this country and fighting those. As one Lakers player said, there is still time to figure everything out and that is the case both as a league and for each team and as long as there are open discussions.