There is a significant number of NBA players who are disappointed that everyone wasn’t given the opportunity to vote on whether to restart the 2019-20 season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Last week, the National Basketball Players Association executive committee and its board of representatives approved the league’s 22-team, return-to-play format to be held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, in late July.
The complaint, privately expressed by multiple players, is that every player’s voice wasn’t heard for this critical and potentially life-changing vote, sources said.
The unease about relocating to a quarantined campus during the COVID-19 pandemic was already viewed as hazardous and unnecessary to many players. But because of the George Floyd tragedy and the powerful movement for racial justice that’s sweeping the nation, some players believe it’s bad optics for a league comprised predominantly of black men to be sequestered in one location for up to three months merely to entertain the masses and ease the league’s economic burden, sources said.
“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.”
Irving is of the position that players should consider not playing in light of the uproar over racial injustice and the unknowns of COVID-19, sources said.
Irving’s stance is meaningful because he’s on the executive committee that voted for the season’s resumption.
Sources said several players have been reluctant to express their views in fear of opposing the superstars who are adamant about playing if proper safety measures are in place.
Then there is a faction of players that is noncommittal on a return because it hasn’t received enough feedback and information on how the league plans to facilitate a safe haven, sources said. Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony expressed this very concern to Ernie Johnson in an NBA Together Twitter Live session.
Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant, on the Yahoo Sports Posted Up with Chris Haynes video series, said he wasn’t sure if returning this season was the right thing to do.
Part of the NBPA board of representatives’ obligation is to communicate with each individual on their respective teams to provide updates and make sure every player’s voice is heard, especially regarding the resumption of the season.
On the flip side, there are players who haven’t made themselves available for calls or Zoom chats with their respective board reps, sources said.
The decision to play will be up to each individual, but they will not be paid if they don’t play.
An all-player voting system of the nearly 450 players in the league doesn’t seem achievable at this point, but it could be something the NBPA looks into down the road. Some agents are urging their clients to speak up and talk with the NBPA about seeking a more collaborative system.
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