Teams made NBA history on Wednesday when each involved with all three scheduled playoff games refused to take the court in order to keep the focus on racial injustice and police brutality in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
The players then held a meeting to determine whether or not to finish out the playoffs amid this time of social unease. While the Los Angeles Lakers and L.A. Clippers were among the teams looking to cancel the rest of the postseason, a unanimous vote the following morning ultimately determined they would continue to play.
Regardless, players are still calling on owners to do their part in helping them make steps to spark true change. It appears Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan has since put the onus on himself to lead the charge.
As a former player and the only Black majority owner in the league, Jordan has acted as the bridge between both sides in this matter. According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen, Jordan spoke with Russell Westbrook and is also planning to meet with Chris Paul to determine a proper course of action:
Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets — and the only Black majority owner in the league — reached out to National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN, in advance of the owners meeting to get a better understanding of what the players hoped to achieve going forward and to offer assistance as they make their case to the NBA board of governors. Jordan also spoke with Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook about issues of social justice that initially left some stars advocating for the cancellation of the season.
“Right now, listening is better than talking,” Jordan told the group, according to sources.
Jordan and the owners feel finishing the season is the best way to keep the message going:
Many owners, including Jordan, sources said, favored continuing the season, believing that the games were still the best and most visible platform for social change.
Although the Hornets were not involved in the season restart at Walt Disney World, Jordan has used his influence to help determine how it should play out.
Doubling as the NBA Labor Relations Committee chairman, he was also a prominent figure in making sure that commissioner Adam Silver did not get too exploratory with the playoffs.
Jordan is now using his influence to ensure that the owners are exploring every avenue to help magnify the efforts being made by players. Teaming up with vocal leaders like Paul and Westbrook is a solid first step toward making it come to fruition.
Michael Jordan serving as voice of reason in unprecedented season
Silver acknowledged that there were no shortage of proposals regarding potential tournaments and pool play for the bubble. However, it was Jordan that ultimately convinced them to maintain a sense of normalcy given the circumstances on and off the court.
“We took many of those proposals very seriously. But ultimately, and I agreed with Michael, that there’s so much chaos in the world right now — even before the racial unrest we’re experiencing — that let’s come as close to normal as we can,” Silver previously said.
“And as close to normal as we can is top eight in the West and top eight in the East playing four rounds.”
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