Just as the NBA started to move forward with its plans to resume the 2019-20 season this past week, things seemed to be unraveling before the weekend with multiple players considering opting out of the return.
Many players, including NBA stars, expressed uncertainty about the NBA’s safety protocols for Walt Disney World in Orlando and questioned if playing basketball would take attention away from those protesting for reform in the United States. The concerns led to an extensive phone call on Friday discussing to let players from across the league be heard.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was a leading voice in the conference call on Friday, advocating for the players to sit out the resumed season. However, following a weekend of extended conversations, it sounds like things are headed in a positive direction.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there is no indication from players, agents or league officials that concerns over safety or social issues are putting the NBA’s return in jeopardy. While some players around the league are not expected to participate, either due to concerns for their health or to support those protesting, there is no indication it will be enough to compromise the return plan.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley likely captured a feeling shared by many across the league. Given LeBron James fully intends to play when the season resumes, a majority of his peers will follow in his action. While they will be playing games and providing some entertainment, James and other stars are also working to create meaningful change.
The NBA must still work with the NBA Players Association to ease some of the concerns felt across the league. However, the support from Dr. Anthony Fauci should be one voice that helps players feel a bit safer when considering the league’s plan.
Canceling the remainder of the season would also be extremely costly for the NBA and carry consequences this year and in years to come.
As detailed by ESPN, players already lost out on approximately $300 million in salary this year and would lose more than $1 billion if the season is canceled. Even worse, canceling the season would allow owners to tear up the collective bargaining agreement, putting more of the league’s financial hit on the players.
Ultimately, barring a second wave of the coronavirus sweeping across the United States before July, fans should expect the NBA season to resume on July 30.