When NBA players considered entering the Orlando bubble to finish the 2020 season, there was the dilemma of whether playing basketball helped or distracted from the calls for social justice reform.
On Wednesday, those discussions were reignited.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ wildcat strike of their Game 5 matchup with the Orlando Magic following the police shooting of Wisconsin man Jacob Blake had a domino effect as all three NBA games on Wednesday were not played. The strike sparked nationwide conversation and action by other professional sports organizations as many broadcasts pivoted from game coverage to social justice talks.
Players and coaches in the bubble had a meeting Wednesday night on whether the season will continue or be canceled. After nearly three hours of discussion, it’s still unclear whether those games will be rescheduled or if the 2020 season is canceled as discussions have been pushed to Thursday.
Discussions on continuing season will extend into tomorrow, sources tell ESPN, but appears unlikely the three playoff games on Thursday will be played. "Everyone is still too emotional," one high-ranking source tells ESPN. "There needs to be more time to come together on this."
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020
There was speculation that Thursday’s slate of games would be called off, but the NBA has yet to announce as of Wednesday night following the players’ meeting.
Lakers and Clippers Exit Meeting After Saying No to Continuing Season
The Lakers and Clippers voted no on whether to finish the season as both teams exited the meeting room first and were led by Lebron James, Chris Hayes reported. Every team in the bubble voted to continue the season besides the Los Angeles teams, per Shams Charania.
The vote was considered a poll rather than a final vote, Wojnarowski reported.
The Heat’s Udonis Haslem reportedly spoke at the meeting and told everyone in the room that without the Lakers and Clippers, how will the season continue, Charania said.
In the meeting, players discussed the need for an action plan from owners that “if owners don’t come up with something that makes them believe staying will help move these important issues forward, this season is done,” Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported.
Celtics, Raptors Discussed Boycotting 2nd Round Series
Before the Bucks’ strike, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse revealed to ESPN that his players had been in talks on Tuesday night with the Boston Celtics about possibly boycotting their second-round postseason matchup.
“The players are deeply disappointed that the same thing happens again in a relatively short time frame,” Nurse said earlier Wednesday, referring to George Floyd’s murder three months ago. “They want to be part of the solution. They want to help. They want justice. They want this particular problem to be handled in a much better way. That’s the first thing.”
“Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to try to demand a little more action. That’s really what they want,” Nurse added. “I think there’s enough attention and not quite enough action, and that’s what I can sense from the discussions is their disappointment. Like, ‘Man, how can we get something to change, like now?’ We need something to change, not just attention on the problem. We need a plan of action.”
NBA Social Justice Initiatives Not Enough
Players and coaches around the league say they have been frustrated for the lack of reform that has taken place since they entered the bubble despite Black Lives Matter branding and deflecting postgame interview questions to speak upon issues outside the bubble.
“But it’s not working, so obviously something has to be done and right now our focus really shouldn’t be on basketball,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said, per ESPN. “I understand it’s the playoffs and everything like that but we still have a bigger issue, an underlying issue that’s going on and the things that we’ve tried haven’t been working.”
“So we definitely need to take a different approach and we need to try new things out to try to get this thing working the way that we know it should and get our voices heard even more,” Smart added.
Bucks point guard George Hill was vocal about his regrets of coming to the bubble.
“We can’t do anything [from Orlando],” Hill told Yahoo Sports. “First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
Wednesday’s wildcat strike did elevate NBA players’ platform higher. The Bucks initiated a conference call with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes inside the locker room Wojnarowski reported.
Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.