After a month of uninterrupted basketball, the NBA playoffs came to a full stop on Wednesday, and it wasn’t because of the coronavirus.
Just moments before the Milwaukee Bucks were set to take on the Orlando Magic for a potential elimination game on Monday, the Bucks’ players decided to sit out of the game as a way to protest racial inequality and police brutality in the United States. Shortly after, the four other teams that were scheduled to play — the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder — also chose to not play.
While the initial reaction from the players led many to believe that the NBA playoffs might be canceled, at this point it looks like the playoffs will resume. However, before the players came to that conclusion, they had a pair of meetings, the first of which reportedly ended with James walking out.
James was a focal point in the second meeting too, but with a night to sleep on things, he was able to end the meeting with a message that resonated with players, according to Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report.
Sources say Lebron James was the last player to speak on the call and he delivered a strong, thoughtful message to the owners. His main point was that the work has to continue, and the owners have to truly dedicate to advancing this cause.— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 27, 2020
Rooks provided more details on NBA TV:
“LeBron James was the final voice on that call, which is really important, because that’s what he stressed: this only works if we’re all in this together, this only works if we care about this genuinely — at a human level — when we’re not playing basketball. This only works if we believe in it. And players are starting to feel like owners are seeing that more than they did before.”
Following that meeting, the belief is that James is among the players that want to resume the playoffs, but on the condition that the stance players took on Wednesday wasn’t in vain.
It’s clear that these players want to see their organizations get more involved, whether it’s by converting their vacant arenas into polling centers, or contributing to causes the players believe in. The players just want to see change, and they deserve it. Now, it appears they’re getting some of it, too.