Clippers guard Lou Williams was on the fence about playing in the NBA’s resumption. Ultimately, he reported. He even underwent a lengthy quarantine stemming from a strip-club stop that became highly publicized. Then, once the playoffs got underway, players went on strike. The Clippers reportedly initially voted to cancel the rest of the postseason. Players eventually decided to keep playing.
That all left Williams’ head spinning.
It’s a lot, man. Everything that we’re dealing with is overwhelming. We’re inside of a controlled environment – outside of yesterday – without our families. We’re expected to entertain you guys, save the world, speak up on issues that are very personal that hits home for us. So, we’re overwhelmed. And so I think a lot of our opinions and a lot of our feelings reflected that last week. And we had another opportunity to speak again as a group and decided to make a decision and continue to use our platforms. Nothing that we’re dealing with is easy. It’s not play, put your career in jeopardy, put your futures on hold, how you make a livelihood. A lot of people are quick to say, “Why don’t you guys just stop playing? And just don’t play. And protest.” And those same people are going to go to work the next day. Sometimes, I just think we just get caught up in the entertainment aspect of this business, and people kind of forget that this is the way that we feed our families, and this is our livelihoods. And so it was an overwhelming time. It was an overwhelming few days. So, I’m glad that we got some positive steps out of it to continue on to fight for social injustices to people of color, the people in general who have dealt with police brutality. I was happy that, out of everything outside of the pause, that we were able to provoke some change. So, I was proud in that aspect.
I’m glad Williams said this.
All of this.
In one sense, NBA players should get paid more than usual for playing right now. Their work conditions are far more difficult. Players have been stuck on a closed campus, separated from their families and friends (until now). But without fan attendance, revenue is way down, and revenue determines players’ salaries. Like many things in the coronavirus pandemic, there are no easy answers.
Professional athletes have high salaries and short careers. Not playing would have been DEVASTATING financially. NBA players should not be pressured into sitting out.
Likewise, NBA players shouldn’t be pressured into speaking out. It’s not on NBA players – especially in a majority-Black league – to solve racism. Black people are the victims of racism. Keep the pressure on politicians and others with similar influence.
Of course, that doesn’t mean NBA players are powerless. They have relatively large platforms. I salute anyone who chooses to speak out or sit out. It’s commendable when people take on a larger burden to make the world a better place. That should never get lost.
But we also ought to recognize how much NBA players have on their plates right now and hold them to reasonable – not higher – standards