Reports began circulating on Friday that not everyone was onboard with the NBA season resuming in July at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, with some players disappointed that everyone wasn’t given the opportunity to vote, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
Beyond heath and quarantine concerns, the climate of the country in wake of the George Floyd protests against police brutality and racism in policing also played a role in the pushback.
“What message are we sending by agreeing to this during this time?” a black player told Yahoo Sports. “We’re out here marching and protesting, and yet we all leave our families in these scary times and gather to perform at a place where the owners won’t be at? What type of sense does that make? We’ll be going backwards. That place isn’t that magical.”
Another “respected NBA player” told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski: “Once we start playing basketball again, the news will turn from systemic racism to ‘who did what’ in the game last night. It’s a crucial time for us to be able to play and blend that to impact what’s happening in our communities.”
Lakers Want Shot at NBA Championship
Kuzma voiced that he is firmly not in that camp and is ready to get back on the court in purple and gold.
“Some of us want to hoop and compete don’t get that twisted….” Kuzma wrote.
Lakers veteran Jared Dudley quickly backed up Kuzma, saying: “Facts! What time is this zoom call today! I’m on it!”
Dudley also added some context to the arguments to play, which he has been talking about for most of the NBA hiatus.
“I’ve done interviews taking about this, Ive talked to over 30 young and vet players about it… Huge financial implications if we don’t play.. [Salaries] cut in half and possible no season the following year.”
Kyrie Irving ‘Driving Force’ in Raising Concerns
Last week, the National Basketball Players Association voted on a conference call to approve the 22-team restart plan, as did the owners.
“The Board of Player Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has approved further negotiations with the NBA on a 22-team return to play scenario to restart the 2019-20 NBA season,” the statement from the union said. “Various details remain to be negotiated and the acceptance of the scenario would still require that all parties reach agreement on all issues relevant to resuming play.”
But now the pushback is gaining momentum, with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report saying that one agent estimates that 2-3 of the top 40 would refuse to play under the proposed bubble restrictions. Kyrie Irving has reportedly organized a call with upward of 200 players for Friday to discuss the next steps and has been a “driving force” behind the movement to reconsidering the restart of the season.