Jazz center Ed Davis was among the 80-plus players on last Friday’s conference call, which saw a number of players – including Kyrie Irving – express their concerns about resuming the 2019/20 season amid the ongoing pandemic and the fight for social justice in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Davis expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, though he questioned whether sitting out in protest this summer was the best way to advance the cause. Pointing out that refusing to play this summer could compromise the league’s financial situation in 2020/21 and beyond, Davis argued that forgoing all that money would be counterproductive for a league made up predominantly of black players.
“Us missing the rest of this season, we’re talking about billions and billions of dollars for the black community because a lot of guys in the NBA are black men from the inner cities and things like that,” Davis said. “So, the way I look at it, we have to play for that simple fact. I saw Stephen Jackson say that we can’t play because it’s going to be a distraction. Yeah, it’s going to be a distraction, but we can take that money – those billions and billions of dollars – that we’re going to make and pour it back in the community. You can look at it like that – that us losing out on that money would hurt generations of people.
“For me, I make $5MM a year and I’m taking a 25% pay cut, so I’m losing around $30K every two weeks. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s what is creating generational wealth and that’s what is really going to help the black community. I don’t know if guys are looking at it like that. But that’s just my perspective and the reason why I think we need to play.”
Mentioning Irving and Dwight Howard specifically, Davis pointed out that some of the players who have been most outspoken about focusing on social-justice causes rather than returning to play are already set for life financially. Davis noted that the players’ union has to listen to what the league’s younger and lesser-paid players are saying too, acknowledging that there are a wide variety of perspectives on the issues to consider.
Davis also provided some additional details on Friday’s call and expressed a few more opinions on where things stand with the NBA and its players, as well as what he thinks will happen next. His conversation with Kennedy is worth checking out in full at HoopsHype, but here are a few more notable quotes from the veteran big man:
On the difference of opinions during Friday’s call:
“There were 80 guys on the call and maybe 10 who spoke, and of the guys who spoke, it was probably 50/50 – only half said that we might need to take a stand and that playing might not be the best idea.
“… Obviously, it’s a tough situation; we’re in a pandemic. But this is when we really have to stick together and really use our platform and really make a difference. I think that we have so many resources through the NBA and working with the NBA, that’s how we’re gonna make things happen. Taking a stand and not playing, I just don’t think that’s going to better the situation. I guess it might be a little distraction, but it’s on us to turn that distraction into a positive thing.”
On whether he’s confident that the season will resume next month as planned:
“Yeah, I’m about 99.9% sure that we’ll finish the season. I know a couple guys from the Jazz have concerns, but in our group chat when we talk, everybody’s on board and we’re ready to play. We’re hoping that we can start doing contact stuff soon. So the team I play on, we’re ready to go. I don’t know how it is for some of these other teams. But I’ve played with so many different guys in the NBA and I talk to so many different guys and, for the most part, guys want to play.”
On what he’d like to see happen if the restart moves forward as planned:
“I do think if we play and go to Orlando, we can sit down with Commissioner (Adam) Silver and figure out something that we really can do so that these people who are getting murdered on camera can get the justice that they deserve. … We’re in crazy times; we’re in a pandemic and black guys are being murdered on camera. And then (the cops) are going home on paid leave, which is not right. That definitely has to change, and this change is not going to happen over a week, over a month or over a year. This is going to take decades. It’s going to take the people who are in their 20s and raising kids to stop the hatred and stop the racism. That’s what it’s going to take.
“So, I’m not with the quick fixes or emotional decisions; they never really work out well. When you have a plan and find a solution, that’s when you get the most success and that’s when good things happen. I think with (NBPA president Chris Paul), (NBPA executive director) Michele (Roberts) and Adam Silver, they’re gonna do that.”