Last week, it seemed as if the 2019-20 NBA season would resume and the Washington Wizards would be part of a 22-team group that would play some games in Florida. However, the National Basketball Players Association, or the players’ union hasn’t signed off on the deal. And furthermore, they may reject it altogether.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the players union held a call on Friday night which featured over 100 players. In that call, one of the players, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving apparently made a plea to encourage players to reject restarting the season.
One reason why players may be concerned is the coronavirus pandemic. Even if the economy is reopening in most states, the virus is still there. Anyone can get this virus at any time.
But Irving, who is a member of the NBPA’s Executive Committee, has spoken with rank-and-file players, who also were concerned about the optics of a season restart. This includes the fact that there were nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice the last couple weeks after George Floyd’s death in the hands of Minneapolis police.
This snippet from Wojnarowski’s article sums up what the players are grappling with.
“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 and impact what’s happening in our communities,” one widely respected NBA player told ESPN. “We are asking ourselves, ‘Where and how can we make the biggest impact?’ Mental health is part of the discussion too, and how we handle all of that in a bubble.”
To be clear, Wojnarowski mentioned that currently, the players would rather finish the season, but this also comes at a time when there are many social issues on their minds.
I’ve been on record saying that the NBA season should have been cancelled for some time due to the coronavirus, though I also understood that such a scenario was highly unlikely. But with Floyd’s death sparking more discussions, it’s possible that the season restart won’t be as smooth as the NBA initially assumed just a few weeks ago.