The Los Angeles Lakers have dealt with a tumultuous season and that again was the case in the Walt Disney World bubble this week.
On Wednesday morning — just hours before L.A. would have a chance to move on to the Western Conference semifinals — the Milwaukee Bucks laid a bombshell on the league by boycotting their game against the Orlando Magic. The Bucks protesting their game was completely unexpected, and it took several league-wide meeting for a resolution to come.
But within those meetings was ample frustration over a number of issues. Initial reporting stated that the Lakers and L.A. Clippers were the only two teams in favor of canceling the remainder of the season. This tone quickly changed, but it did not come unanimously.
The Lakers, for what felt like the first time all season, were split on Wednesday night when taking a vote over what they wanted to do, according to The Athletic:
The Lakers’ team vote Wednesday night, per a source, was not unanimous; some players wanted to keep playing, while others wanted to walk.
Deeper reporting revealed that Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard were among those against resuming the playoffs, according to Tania Ganguli of The L.A. Times:
Howard and Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, who is from Louisville, Ky., where Taylor was killed, had been the two most prominent players in favor of not finishing the season. That group felt they would better serve the community on the front lines. But more of them wanted to play with so much on the line financially and the ability to continue having a platform to speak; not to mention the chance to win a championship.
Together, they moved forward in support of continuing the season.
There is no understating the complexity of the issues NBA players faced over the course of this week. While some players argue that playing provides a distraction from the issues, others believe that playing gives them their greatest platform.
Rondo and Howard — who had prior doubts about the NBA restart — believed for at least a moment that returning to play would not allow for any progress. Both sides of this argument offer completely valid perspectives, and that is why it took multiple days of conversation to be able to come to a consensus.
On a larger scale, the NBA and NBPA agreed to three key social actions and that paved the way to resuming the playoffs this weekend.
LeBron James pressed team owners for more action
While Lakers star LeBron James initially sided with Rondo and Howard, calls to action on the NBA’s governors allowed him to feel more comfortable with playing.
James is perhaps the most influential voice in the league, and if he says he won’t play unless certain things happen, his demands are the most likely to be met.
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