With the NBA season still at a pause and in hopes of resuming next month, Brooklyn Nets point guard, Kyrie Irving has been a topic of conversation for literally a week.
Irving organized a conference call with pro-basketball players from both the WNBA and the NBA.
The purpose of the call was for players to voice their concerns regarding the NBA’s decision to resume play in Orlando next month. More specifically, the task force’s mission has been to explore solutions for players reluctant to speak out. Irving, a Vice President of the NBA’s Players Association was joined by Player Association President Chris Paul on the call.
Worth noting: Irving’s Nets teammate, Kevin Durant was on the line, so was the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard, Carmelo Anthony and C.J. McCollum were on the line too.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley were also on Friday’s conference call. “Regardless of what criticism and retribution we face, we still want to protect the players who are afraid to protect themselves,” Howard said in a statement to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“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 be better for everyone as a whole in knowing their feelings as human beings are just as relevant as the ones who dominate.”
Avery Bradley is also vocal. “The actual act of sitting out doesn’t directly fight systemic racism,” Bradley told ESPN’s Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski.
“But it does highlight the reality that without black athletes, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. The league has a responsibility to our communities in helping to empower us — just as we have made the NBA brand strong.”
It is believed by some NBA players that their words scattered in multiple articles are being used to divide rather than unite. Retired NBA player turned analyst, Kendrick Perkins has been vocal.
“No one is listening to Kyrie,” Perkins said on CBS Sports Radio Tuesday.
“The NBA is going to continue. All he’s doing is causing unnecessary drama between the NBA brothers that we don’t need right now. Him lashing out is just making news and making a whole bunch of noise for nothing because the NBA season is going to happen.”
Irving and Perkins were once Cleveland Cavaliers teammates and were once neighbors.
Irving has made it clear privately and in conference call meetings that he is on a united front with his NBA bretheren and specifically with Avery Bradley. It has been told to me that the focus of his motives are centered around equality for Blacks and injustices in the country in cases like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
Some have referenced that Irving voted via conference call in favor of resuming the NBA season.
However, I’m told he had a change of heart for a very specific reason. “After he voted yes, as the VP, he got calls from other players who expressed to him that they also didn’t want to go to Orlando to play in the bubble,” a source shared with me.
According to multiple reports, during Friday’s conference call, Irving stated: “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit …
“Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”
As it stands now, the NBA will resume play on July 31. Teams will compete to fill the league’s 16-NBA Playoff spots in both the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conferences with the NBA Finals slated to finish no later than October 12.