Players Divided As NBA Prepares To Play Ball

By Ben Hamill - June 20 2020
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Players Divided As NBA Prepares To Play Ball

The NBA may be planning for a return to play at Orlando in Florida late next month, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is equally on board with the plan. The greatest incentive to restart is, of course, money. According to the terms of the current proposal on the table, players who choose not to resume play at Walt Disney World in Orlando on July 30th, stand to lose a large chunk of their salary. The league did however indicate by way of a concession over health concerns, that exceptions will be considered in favour of those players deemed “high-risk” in terms of their general state of health.

Those agreeing to join their teams in Orlando will have to enter into quarantine for the duration of the season. Only once the NBA heads into the second round of the playoffs will players be permitted to bring family members/guests to where they are staying.  

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Kyrie Irving Stirs The Pot

While many players are on board with the plan, dozens of others, led by Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving, have voiced concerns over the circumstances surrounding the planned return. These concerns were reportedly discussed by way of a recent Friday night conference call led, as it were, also by Irving. According to a report ran by a prominent sports page, other players to have joined Irving’s side of the roost include Dwight Howard, Donavan Mitchell and Carmelo Anthony.

Irving has since been quoted as having made comments in the line of his not being on board with “systematic racism” and that whether the players liked to hear it or not, “black men” are every waking day specifically targeted. Its unclear whether Irving had been speaking in general terms or referring to league management.

Former NBA superstar Kendrick Perkins has in the meantime been hammering Irving for being a “distraction” and for showing a lack of leadership. Perkins has been outspoken about the fact that he believes Irving to instead of coming from a genuine place of concern, merely wanting to stir the racism pot.

The Real Concerns

Some players are apparently upset about having not been granted any opportunity to individually vote on the Orlando proposal. The return to play under the terms proposed by the league was approved by their union, The National Basketball Players Association.

But according to the Lakers’ LeBron James, many players didn’t even consider participating in Irving’s conference call. James did from as early as April voice his unhappiness over the possibility of a cancelled season.

But that some players may be experiencing real apprehension and for the right reasons is more than reasonable, especially given the recent spike in infections in Florida. Other concerns include the length of time players will be required to spend in the Orlando quarantine bubble, the suitability of where they will be expected to stay for the duration of their time at the Disney campus, and the frequency of testing.

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