It is not something haphazardly slapped together. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver worked on a restart plan with owners, the players union, television partners, and potential hosts. Everyone settled on a 22-team restart plan with some “seeding games” on the front end, a play backed by NBA owners and the players’ union.
Now a coalition of players led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley have questions about the plan, how it meshes with the social justice movement many NBA players are committed to, and the details of how players’ health and safety will be protected.
Silver’s reaction? “I can only say it may not be for everyone. It’s not an ideal situation.”
"It will entail enormous sacrifice on behalf of those players and for everyone involved …"
—Adam Silver on the challenges of bringing the NBA back pic.twitter.com/bc3YPi6GEN
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 16, 2020
Silver was part of ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” and was speaking with Mike Greenberg about the NBA’s return plan. He acknowledged the issues players have but also sounded an optimistic tone (hat tip Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle).
“My sense is we’re gonna be able to work through most of those issues the next few weeks.”
The NBA has been encouraged players to use their platforms to take on societal issues for years. Teams and players have stepped up their activity in recent weeks as energy for change has built in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a (now former) Minneapolis police officer. The question players are asking — and seem divided upon — is whether a return to play is a distraction from the Black Lives Matter cause or if it gives players a better platform to promote that cause?
Silver is asking how the NBA can better use its platform as well.
“How can we use our larger platform together with our players to effect change? What are those things we should be doing?”
Silver, as always, was measured with his words and projected an air of confidence that the NBA could pull the restart together. He also said again it’s basically the best of a lot of bad options left by the coronavirus pandemic. He understands not every player will want to go to Orlando and said they will not be in breach of their contract — there will be no punishment for players who choose not to go, but they will not be paid, either — but sounds like he believes most will.
Which means there will be a return of the NBA season.