“I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls***. Something smells a little fishy.”
Irving made it known he was strongly against going to Orlando, Florida, to resume the season, opting instead to work on the frontlines in his community to focus on racial oppression and systemic racism in the aftermath of George Floyd’s homicide, sources said.
However, later in the call, Irving said he would stand with the group and travel to Disney World in Orlando if the players agreed that was the right call, sources said.
“If it’s worth the risk, then let’s go and do it,” Irving said on the call, sources said. “But if you’re not with it, it’s OK, too. We’ve got options for both ways. Let’s just come to a middle ground as a family.”
In a recent chat group with Nets players, Kyrie Irving lobbied for skipping the bubble, the Daily News has learned.
I agree with Kyrie (Irving). Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction.
No Basketball till we get things resolved.
“The actual act of sitting out doesn’t directly fight systemic racism,” Bradley said. “But it does highlight the reality that without black athletes, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. The league has a responsibility to our communities in helping to empower us — just as we have made the NBA brand strong.”
Now, Howard is stating clearly: They are not trying to disrupt the NBA’s plan.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Lakers' Dwight Howard in statement to @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: "Our main objective is to raise awareness and gain transparency…Many of our fellow players are afraid to voice their concerns and are continuing to follow along with what they believe they have to." pic.twitter.com/dfTlSPBwpV
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 17, 2020
Collectively sitting out appeared unpopular among players. That would have come at SIGNIFICANT financial cost to players without necessarily making gains toward racial justice.
So, if even Howard, Irving and Bradley aren’t advocating for players to sit out en masse, it seems there won’t be a widespread boycott.
But some players could make personal decisions to sit out. Players are concerned about coronavirus, health, living conditions in the bubble and how to help the Black Lives Matter movement. They’re also concerned about their salaries. There’s a lot to weigh.
That’s where Irving has made the biggest and best impact. Irving has fostered more discussion among players, encouraging them to voice their concerns without pressure from more-powerful sources. It sounds like Howard, in this statement, is mostly speaking about that undertaking.
Yet, this coalition clearly has other (sometimes related) goals, too. Irving clearly cares about combating systematic racism. Howard’s previous statement, at least according to his agent, focused on “social injustice and racism.” Bradley talked about structural changes within the NBA.
It’s just now clear their tactics for achieving those goals won’t include a widespread boycott of the NBA’s resumption.