The Los Angeles Lakers and the rest of the NBA continuing their respective seasons seems like far from a certainty given the ongoing concerns about the threat the coronavirus could pose to both the league and the world at large.
But while the fact that the NBA doesn’t appear to be close to having a concrete plan to resume yet leaves some room for pessimism that they ever will figure it out, Monday also offered a sign of potential optimism, as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports that some of the league’s biggest stars got together on a conference call and were in agreement that they want the season to continue:
Toward the end of the call discussing the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, all parties were in agreement to take the court with proper safety measures once the league is given the green light to commence, sources said.
Chris Paul, the president of the players association, arranged the call that included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, sources said.
The group’s decision is expected to hold significant weight in the decision-making process for the rest of the league’s players when it’s time to deliberate on whether to restart the season.
We need details on this call immediately, because I have so many questions, such as:
- Was it a regular phone call, or was it a Zoom meeting like so many of us have been using during this quarantine? Who was the Guy Who Forgot To Mute™, and who put up a corny Zoom background that only they thought was hilarious? (LeBron would seem to be the favorite in the latter category)
- Did Kawhi Leonard even talk?
- Did Giannis’ feed get hacked?
- Was Kevin Durant arguing with bloggers on Twitter the whole time?
- How far down does Anthony Davis have to hunch to get on a webcam? Is his quarantine unibrow out of control?
- Did Dame try to get everyone to check out his latest mixtape before logging off?
- Did LeBron promise to invite everyone except Steph over for Taco Tuesday when this is all over?
- How hilarious is it that Westbrook got invited but (apparently) James Harden didn’t?
Okay, the answer to that last one is very hilarious, but as you can see, we still need a lot of answers.
But getting back to the point: Why is this a big deal? Well, for one thing — as Haynes noted in his story — players in the NBA generally do follow the stars’ lead, so this could be a positive indication that the rest of the league will prepare themselves to play should the NBA put a plan together to resume.
That is no small thing, as Haynes reports that there was some level of dissatisfaction among players around the league when Adam Silver said on a conference call last week that no plan could guarantee everyone’s safety, and that many players on teams eliminated from the playoffs don’t want to come back. Given that we also know that many players want to return no matter what, maybe with these stars spearheading the way, the rest of the players the league needs to get behind whatever plan it formulates will fall in line behind them.
At the same time, this development is on some level unsurprising. These players are the biggest stars in the league, and therefore have the most to lose, legacy-wise, should this season just end. With the exception of Durant and Curry, every player on that list is at the very least vying for a playoff spot, and among those, only Lillard isn’t on a true title contender.
For the 35 year old James specifically, this season may serve as one of his last, best chances to win a title before he retires. That was true even before this pandemic, and may be even more so should next season be significantly impacted by all of this. As a result, we can probably assume that the Lakers are as motivated as any team to return, all things being equal, but will the NBA put together a plan that allows that to happen? That remains to be seen. For now, all we can do is wait.