A Thursday evening conference call between NBA players and owners addressed various player concerns ahead of a return to action, and seems to have pointed the way forward this season while satisfying both parties.
The NBA expects to resume its slate of playoff games on Saturday. All games have been postponed since Wednesday, when the Bucks refused to take the court in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Magic.
On Thursday’s call, players expressed a desire to be “proactive, not reactive” when it came to social justice causes, according to Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Rooks says players called for a “dedicated coalition” within the league to address key issues of concern, including voting rights and structural police reform.
Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic (Twitter link) reports that players challenged team owners to create actions, rather than just financial commitments, adding that a new program will be developed by the NBA and the NBPA and will be devoted to regularly addressing “player-creative (social) initiatives.”
In speaking to Fox Prime Ticket, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reiterated the desire from players to create a group devoted to tackling police reform, voting, and other extant social problems important to players, per ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
Rooks also tweets that Lakers All-Star LeBron James, whose new foundation More Than A Vote is designed to address voting inequities, was particularly vocal on Thursday’s call. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, LeBron had told players he was prepared to resume the season, but was willing to change course if he didn’t like what he heard on the call with owners. That conversation assuaged his concerns, per Haynes.
As Haynes explains, James was among the players who was initially upset about the fact that the Bucks decided not to play Wednesday’s game without telling any other teams or players, since it left everyone else scrambling to react, without a clear plan in place. The Bucks had been planning to forfeit the game vs. Orlando and didn’t necessarily anticipate that their decision would temporarily shut down the league, says Haynes.
LeBron’s “emotions got the best of him” on Wednesday, one source told Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times, but he always supported the Bucks and was on board with what the majority of players wanted to do. He simply wanted “unity and a specific call to action,” sources tell Haynes.
Although Friday’s games won’t take place as initially scheduled, all 13 teams still at the Walt Disney World campus have scheduled practices for today, according to the NBA.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.