BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA’s plans to hold the end of the regular season and the entirety of the postseason in Disney World has been moving along swimmingly. Dates have been set and plans have been made, as the NBA has looked to have everything in order for a return to play during some very uncertain times.
A number of reports emerged on Friday indicating that many players are vocally concerned about heading to Orlando to play basketball.
Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that “multiple players” expressed concerns “that every player’s voice wasn’t heard for this critical and potentially life-changing vote.”
From Haynes’ story:
The unease about relocating to a quarantined campus during the COVID-19 pandemic was already viewed as hazardous and unnecessary to many players. But because of the George Floyd tragedy and the powerful movement for racial justice that’s sweeping the nation, some players believe it’s bad optics for a league comprised predominantly of black men to be sequestered in one location for up to three months merely to entertain the masses and ease the league’s economic burden, sources said.
One player who spoke to Haynes placed the current social justice movement across the country as seemingly an equal concern to the coronavirus.
“What message are we sending by agreeing to this during this time?” a black player told Haynes. “We’re out here marching and protesting, and yet we all leave our families in these scary times and gather to perform at a place where the owners won’t be at? What type of sense does that make? We’ll be going backwards. That place isn’t that magical.”
Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report followed up Haynes’ report by saying that she has heard from players who intend to talk with about 150 players on a video conference “to solidify what that stand is and stress this only works if they unify.
MORE: I've spoken to multiple players, about 5 days ago there was a zoom call of about 50 players discussing what they can do to take a stand. They are planning another call tonight with about 150 players to solidify what that stand is and stress this only works if they unify. https://t.co/FsklmAiD1I
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 12, 2020
Howard Beck, also of Bleacher Report, then followed up Rooks’ report by saying that could involve up to 200 players, and that Kyrie Irving has been “a driving force in organizing these calls, and in raising concerns over NBA’s bubble plan.”
Adding to Taylor's report: I'm told today's conf call could involve up to 200 players. Also hearing that Kyrie Irving has been a driving force in organizing these calls, and in raising concerns over NBA's bubble plan. https://t.co/0voQafmveO
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 12, 2020
Irving, 28, will not be playing for the Brooklyn Nets when play resumes, as he is still recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery. He is a vice president on the NBPA executive committee.
Beck noted how the proposed restrictions once players are in Disney World is a major point of contention for players.
There's growing concern re NBA's bubble plan. Players want more freedom of movement while in Orlando. One agent estimates that 2/3 of the top 40 would refuse to play under the proposed restrictions. https://t.co/IrM5MHPu5e
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 12, 2020
All of this reporting came shortly after reports surfaced of exact dates planned for the NBA. That included training camps through the month of July, games beginning on July 30, and families arriving a full month later on Aug. 30.
NBA has instructed teams of full training camp timeline, including July 9-29 in Orlando with three intersquad scrimmages, sources tell ESPN. Again, season re-starts on July 30.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 12, 2020
Sources: NBA's expected restart dates:
– July 30-Aug. 14: Seeding games
– Aug.15-16: Play-in tournaments
– Aug. 17: Playoffs begin
– Aug. 30: Family/guests of teams arrive
– Aug. 31-Sept. 13: Conf. Semifinals
– Sept. 15-Sept. 28: Conf. Finals
– Sept. 30-Oct. 13: NBA Finals
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2020
Clearly, not all players feel as though their voices have been heard. Only the members of the NBPA board of representatives voted on the approval of the NBA’s plans to return, so the rest of the league is now trying to speak up before it’s too late.
Given that the league was hit relatively hard by COVID-19 back in March, and given Adam Silver’s history during his tenure in charge of the league, the commissioner is very likely to listen to the players’ concerns. And so it may be wise to start tempering expectations and excitement for that much-anticipated return of NBA basketball.