While there have been a whole lot of questions — both internally and externally — about the NBA’s plan to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando at the end of July, the plan is not in jeopardy at this point in time, according to Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Close to 100 active NBA and WNBA players participated in a conference call led by NBPA vice president Kyrie Irving on Friday night. During the call, Irving presented a case against restarting the season in Orlando, citing concerns that a return to basketball will distract society at large from the push for social justice reform currently happening throughout the country. Concerns about player safety in the Orlando “bubble” given the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus were also shared. Other players that reportedly spoke up about potentially sitting out at Disney were Donovan Mitchell, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard. Kevin Durant, and NBPA president Chris Paul.
Several players on the call also shared their frustration regarding the amount of time that it has taken the league to provide players with information on future financial implications, as well as how safety measures will be handled and enforced in Orlando. However, according to National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, the main crux of the conversation was how players could use their enormous influence in the most positive possible manner.
“It’s not a question of play or not play,” Roberts said, via ESPN. “It’s a question of, does playing again harm a movement that we absolutely, unequivocally embrace? And then whether our play can, in fact, highlight, encourage and enhance this movement… That’s what they’re talking about. They’re not fighting about it; they’re talking about it.”
Some players are expected to decide not to play in Orlando, for one reason or another, but not nearly enough to compromise the league’s plan for return, which was already approved by the owners and players, per ESPN. Players that choose not to join their respective teams in Orlando won’t be penalized, but they won’t be paid for games missed. Players that don’t join their teams due to health reasons will still be paid once their issues are legitimized by a panel of doctors put together by the league.
So, while the NBA certainly still has a lot of issues it needs to iron out between now and the end of July, it appears as though the league plans to proceed with the restart as scheduled.