In the wake of nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, many NBA players have wondered if a resumed season will take the focus away from the issues that really matter. Los Angeles Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer says that the league is aware of those concerns and is making an active effort to ensure players will remain a part of the national conversation.
"Obviously, there’s also the issues of racial injustice that are so much in the news right now," says Ballmer, who bought the Clippers in 2014.
According to Ballmer, the league is already working with the NBA Players Association, of which Kyrie Irving is the Vice President, to make sure that players will be given the platform to voice their opinions and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
"The league and the NBA Players Association are also in discussions about how to elevate those to focus on those, and not take our players away from the voices they can have, but to allow them to have maybe even more voice through restarting the season," Ballmer said.
What exactly does that mean? It's not totally clear but to the NBA's credit, the league has been much more encouraging of its players to speak their minds in comparison to the NFL and other major American sports leagues.
As for the safety of players, Ballmer says that with the number of safety protocols being put in place, the Orlando bubble may prove to be safer than the rest of the world, despite coronavirus numbers currently spiking in Florida.
"The goal is to be safer than almost any other environment a player could put themselves in," Ballmer says. "So, safer than the world at large. With lots of testing and other appropriate quarantining and masks, and the league is working hard on that. Hopefully, that part works out."