There are a lot of players with doubts about the NBA’s restart bubble. They’re going, in part because they understand the financial implications of not going, but there is far from universal enthusiasm for the NBA’s plan.
Put Philadelphia’s Shake Milton in that concerned group.
The Sixers’ two guard, expected to play a significant role in his team’s chances at the restart, expressed real concerns about the bubble in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Courtesy NBC Sports Philadelphia.
“I don’t really think we should be playing,” Milton said in a video conference call with reporters Tuesday, “but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible. My teammates want to play so we’re going to go down there and try to win…
“I think [the spread of the virus], and then also I feel like there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Milton said. “There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
Milton said he wanted to know more about how the league plans to highlight social justice and take concrete steps toward making a change.
Milton isn’t the only Sixers player saying he doesn’t like the restart plan, here is what Joel Embiid said on his call with reporters:
“Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city — that’s what I’ve always done — my family, my teammates. The mindset doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter the fact that I don’t like that idea and I still don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s going to be safe enough.”
Even with all those concerns, Milton and Embiid are headed to Orlando with teammates.
Milton is going to be asked to play a big role — possibly starting in place of Al Horford — and bring much-needed shooting and floor spacing to the roster. Philadelphia starts the seeding games July 30 as the six seed but is looking to move up in a tight middle of the East. They are a dark horse threat at the restart — with Embiid, a healthy Ben Simmons, and an elite defense — but they need to find a steady offense while defending well, a combo that eluded them earlier this season.