by Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello)
ORLANDO, FL —
As the NBA was preparing to emerge out of this pandemic and resume the season in a “bubble” at Disney World, Kyrie Irving and approximately 80 other players brought some of that momentum to a halt after a Zoom call last weekend.
Irving, vice president of the NBPA, specifically voiced his concern about resuming the season amidst this ongoing pandemic. However, the bigger issue for him and several other players was they didn’t want to play just to provide a distraction, especially during ongoing nationwide protests against social injustices and police brutality against African Americans.
Irving and others feel these issues supercede playing basketball and making money. While many haven’t agreed, some players like current Lakers Dwight Howard and Avery Bradley, are standing behind Irving believing the players have the power to make a difference.
We all know you cannot expect immediate change to these societal issues overnight. However, Irving and Bradley are expecting a more rapid response from the NBA owners, many of whom have barely spoken up about this movement.
Michael Jordan and Mark Cuban are part of the few who have made considerable financial donations to organizations that advocate for racial equality and justice.
That’s two of 30 NBA owners who have tried to make a difference. What the players’ coalition wants is more action. They don’t just want a check, but be proactive in setting up organizations that create opportunities for African Americans.
The coalition had other ideas in mind at the NBA level, such as improved hiring practices for black front office and head coaching candidates and partnerships with black-owned businesses and arena vendors.
These demands are not unrealistic and hopefully the owners will listen and actually implement these ideas. Not because they want to resume the 2020 season, but because it is the right thing to do. These billionaire owners have the money and the power to influence real change in the NBA and our communities, but will they do it?