How Black Lives Matter will impact the NBA, and why the league should cancel the season

If you’re an NBA head, you likely know that the league is scheduling to restart the season at the end of July.

The re-opening of the league has been structured in a way to reflect our new reality living (and playing basketball) with COVID-19. With the changes and decisions based solely on finding a way to resume the season in the face of a global pandemic.

While the Adam Silver, league executives and teams owners tirelessly trying to figure out the best way to restart the league, NBA players spent time with at home with their families.

Not surprisingly, many wore out their game consoles to the point of organizing an “NBA 2K” tournament while other players participated in a virtual NBA-sanctioned game of HORSE – from the comfort of their homes, of course.

Without basketball, some found other outlets like working out in their home gyms, some would take on gambling virtually on the best mobile casinos 2020 or Kazino Online Lithuania while other players found ways to  work on their game. And we’re sure the players’ Netflix, Disney Plus and HULU accounts were getting major work outs, even if the players weren’t.

That’s all seems trivial and fun and games now.

The NBA and Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter and NBA players

For all the league’s preparation, thoughtfulness and numerous Zoom meetings to re-open the league in a way that’s as safe as possible for all the players, staff and personnel, the NBA didn’t know that another global event would hit and run amok on their carefully-laid plans.

The brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Abery shone an intense light on systemic racism, police brutality and inequalities that Black people have faced over generations.

With the vast majority of the population in their homes due to COVID-19, those racial inequities were given unprecedented visibility on social media and dominated a news cycle where it held the nation was a captive audience.  Taylor’s, Floyd’s and Abery’s deaths, along with dozens of other high-profile killings at the hands of police officers over the last decade, has sparked emotions, passionate protests and marches all around the world.

With these charged events, the NBA is uncommonly impacted as the league is comprised predominantly of Black players. Unsurprisingly, some NBA players have spoken out against participating as they (rightfully) believe that it would add another distraction. The fact the many states and cities are beginning to open up, adding the NBA as another diversion, would only serve to undermine the political and social changes that have been forced by the pressure placed on mayors, governors, corporations, politicians and even the President. to respond accordingly.

Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon recently was a guest on JJ Redick’s podcast. The two discussed the worldwide protests and Malcolm Brogdon said that some NBA players were considering skipping the re-opening of the NBA season in Orlando next month. These players are concerned the NBA would take away energy from the movement that has already forced changes in support of the Black community.

“I’ve talked to a few guys that are super interested in sitting out possibly,” Brogdon said. “I was actually talking to  Chris Paul the other day, and he said, ‘Man, this is an individual decision that every man has to make for himself. And I think that’s exactly what it is. It depends on your perspective.”

The Brooklyn Nets’ star Kyrie Irving has created a firestorm, allegedly urging his teammates to sit out the NBA season in support of social justice reforms.

“I don’t support going into Orlando,” Kyrie reportedly said during the call. “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.”

He wasn’t alone. The Los Angeles Lakers had two players agree with Irving. Avery Bradley also pushed the players to recognize the moment and to “play chess, not checkers.” Lakers center Dwight Howard balanced it with his desire to win an NBA championship, but ultimately would make the decision to sit out, telling CNN:

“I would definitely want to play and win a championship, but I don’t want anything to distract us from really what’s going on in our world.” Howard said. “It’s hurting. It’s hurting me, it’s hurting my family, it’s hurting all of our families and everybody’s feeling it right now, and I just think we need to focus on what’s going on.”

The NBA should cancel the season

The logistics around travel and testing and quarantining and home court advantage almost seems trivial now.

The NBA’s re-opening is no longer worrying about the real threat of COVID-19 infection, but reconciling the idea that restarting the season during this flash point in history may negatively impact the league’s Black players past financial considerations.

With this major new wrinkle, the NBA must seriously plan for what happens to the potentially dozens of players that skip the start of the season in lieu of real change. Will they fine the players that decide to sit out? Doubtful. Should the players that choose to sit out get paid? What happens with players that go into the “bubble” to play, but decide to sit out a game in protest?

The league is undoubtedly the most forward-thinking professional sports league in the world and how Adam Silver manages these sensitive situations will either improve that reputation or sully it.

If the league does restart, the NBA will have to prepare rules and guidelines for ways the players may choose to protest in their way whether that’s a message on their shooting shirts, adjustment to the league’s jerseys, or some larger displays that point respect for the Black Lives Matter movement.

NBA owners are predominantly white and they must listen, research, understand and reconcile what’s happening with not just the current civil unrest, but the history of police brutality and systemic racism that the Black community has had to deal with. These are real issues that impact the league in ways most owners can’t comprehend.

The NBA worked swiftly to ban racist owner Donald Sterling, allowed for players to wear hoodies after Trayvon Martin’s death and then LeBron James and teammates wore “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts after a grand jury’s decision not to indict a New York police officer who killed Eric Garner in 2018. The Golden State Warriors chose to skip the traditional visit to the White House for a photo-op with Donald Trump and instead meeting with Barack Obama.

No less than a dozen NBA players have participated in Black Lives Matter protests including players Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Russell Westbrook. Several others spoke out, including Michael Jordan.

In our opinion, the best way to support more than 80% of the Black players in the league is to cancel the NBA season. The league should find a reasonable way to pay their players and release a statement in support Black Lives Matter.

Doing that wouldn’t be empty words, but real action that shows the league truly cares about racial equality and that Black lives matter.

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