On Friday night signs began to show that the July 30th return date of the NBA could be in jeopardy. Probably not, but a conversation was had.
Superstar point guard Kyrie Irving led a 80+ player conference call talking about the NBA’s decision to come back amidst all that is going on in the country. Between the civil unrest and the pandemic, many prominent players think that the call to play in the Orlando bubble might not be the right move. This call contained some of the brightest young stars in the league voicing their concerns. Some notable players who oppose going to Orlando are Donovan Mitchell, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and CJ McCollum. Supposedly some were also upset that there was never a true vote to see how players would feel about the current return format.
In this instance, actually, Kyrie Irving shouldn’t even be introduced as a “superstar point guard”, but as a member and Vice President of the NBA Player’s Association executive board.
This is because after this news broke on Friday, it seemed like almost everyone took to twitter to trash on Kyrie for his “selfish” move trying to derail the restart of the season. But as Vice President Kyrie is speaking for the players. In this role he speaking on behalf of these players.
And as I stated on my personal twitter, throwing shade basically makes Kyrie’s point for him. He knows that the decision to come back and play should not solely be for entertainment, or ‘distraction’, purposes. He wants the players to use their platform to drive as much good and change as they can. If they just dive right in to this new bubble season then their ultimate goal of equality and justice could potentially get lost.
Financially speaking, there is a lot on the line for the players as well. This is especially the case for the players on their rookie deals who want to ensure proper insurance policies are being put in place. Some of these guys didn’t have a say in these restart negotiations. Players in line to get max contracts, like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, run the risk of injury in a proposal that wants players going from 0-100mph in a very short period of time. They deserve to know that their futures aren’t compromised.
However, it is important to note the CBA ramifications if the players do back out from the agreed on proposal.
Now from a fan’s perspective, I dislike Kyrie Irving. He straight up lied to an entire arena last year saying he would resign with the Celtics. Obviously, I understand things can change and I can’t really hold it against him for going to play with KD. Just sometimes, especially for an athlete in a contract year, it’s better to keep concrete statements like that to yourself. Being from Boston, this was upsetting because I enjoyed watching him play for my team. But it’s not a secret that he’s sometimes a headache to deal with.
I don’t believe that makes him a bad professional, though, and I think he is simply doing his job as VP of the NBPA to facilitate these unpopular conversations and ensure that the players are proceeding within their best interests.
When this news broke people were so quick to make jokes about Kyrie being self absorbed, a flat Earther, and wanting to sabotage the league. Like I said, this is just proving his point. Him simply saying he wants to be sure everyone is on board and together just created ridiculous side stories that distract from their main mission: safety, justice, and reform.
What I do find interesting is Lebron James was not on this call. I wrote about Lebron’s hypocrisy in Hong Kong last week so you can draw your own conclusions about what this means in the grand scheme of everything. To be fair, I do see the ability for players to use their platform as a powerful vehicle for good and change as well.
For the record, I want the NBA, NHL, and MLB all to come back. But I can deviate my fandom and these guys being actual human beings to understand why they want to agree to play under the right circumstances.
But, as Pat Beverly said, if Lebron says they are playing then they are going to play. So I guess we’ll see everyone at the end of July. But, a lot can happen between now and then.