Suddenly, the whole league was on strike.
Hill’s teammates joined him in a planned forfeit. Players throughout the league are concerned with racial justice, and other teams followed in sitting out. It was easier to gain momentum as players – separated from friends and family for more than a month – faced mental-health challenges amid the bubble grind.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, via CNN:
I think they needed a break. And maybe, in retrospect, we should have built in a break along the way in the games. Not necessarily for people to leave the bubble, because then you’ve got to quarantine all over again. But just to give guys several days just to sit back and sort of just reflect on what’s happening in society.
The big catch: The NBA can’t predict when societal issues – like police shooting a black man on video – will boil over. A pre-scheduled break would’ve meant players spending more time in the bubble away from their normal lives. Nobody wanted that.
Like with many situations amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA found difficulty striking the balance between safety (which requires degrees of isolation) and mental health. It’s a challenge that warrants continued consideration as the league proceeds.