A message on the video score board informs fans the game against the Utah Jazz has been postponed. Teams were told to go to the locker rooms just before tip off at Oklahoa City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena. Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The NBA is the latest major sports organization inching closer to resuming play after a long pause in their season due to coronavirus.

The NBA’s board of governors recently voted to approve the league’s return-to-play plan, which would involve 22 teams recommencing play inside what is being described as a bubble environment in the Walt Disney World amusement park. The “bubble” was decided upon by a team of top NBA officials and a player’s group lead by NBA star Chris Paul. Many players are reportedly still unsure if they are comfortable with the restrictions in such an environment, which is designed to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Another major concern many from NBA players is the possibility that basketball will take precedence over news of the protests and thus overshadow some criminal justice reform efforts. Kyrie Erving of the Brooklyn Nets led a conference call in which 80 NBA players voiced their opinions and concerns around returning to play during the ongoing social justice movement. Some players have expressed their desire to get back to playing, arguing that a return to the court could place an even bigger spotlight on the movement.

Questions are also swirling around the possible effects of hosting such an unorthodox season, with some pondering if a title won under these circumstances might be widely deemed illegitimate. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

NBA Players on Restart Plan: Not So Fast – Wall Street Journal – 6/14/20 Players who are uncomfortable reporting to Disney won’t be paid for missing games, but they have been assured there won’t be long-term repercussions. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and union president Chris Paul have said that most players are in favor of finishing the season, and people around the league expect to proceed with the Orlando proposal. But they acknowledge that plans could unravel in this convulsive moment of change across the nation.

‘No divide’ among Lakers as restart talk ramps up – ESPN – 6/14/20 “The statement was about social injustice and racism,” Briscoe said. “Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played. He isn’t saying that basketball shouldn’t be. He’s just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what’s going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day.

NBA Return Must Not Distract From Black Lives Matter Movement – Sports Illustrated – 6/13/20 Will the social justice movement get lost in the shuffle? You would like to think not, but remember—we are a country that moves on from everything. It’s been eight years since 20 kids were shot to death at Sandy Hook, and nothing changed. Unarmed black men and women are gunned down with alarming frequency, and nothing has changed. Legislation is stalled by aging white men owned by special interests while powerful police unions stand in the way of structural reform. This feels like a movement, a turning point. But who’s to say the return of sports won’t push even this into the shadows?

Pascal Siakam Opens up About Experiencing Racism in America: ‘I’m Hurting’ – Showbiz Cheat Sheet – 6/14/20 Siakam has a unique perspective in the NBA. He didn’t grow up in the United States, and the team he has played for since entering the NBA is in a diverse section of Canada. Still, after going to school in North America and spending much of the season traveling, Siakam has experienced an uglier side of America’s relationship with the black community. He opened up about the effect it has on him to Complex while reflecting on the recent racial tensions in the country.

NBA Coach Thinks There Will Be a Lockout for 2021 Season If They Don’t Restart – Bleacher Report – 6/15/20 “I think there’s going to be a renegotiation of the CBA, there will be a lockout [in 2020-21] and you’re going to see something similar to what’s happening right now in baseball,” a Western Conference coach told Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “You’ll see a very different NBA going forward if, in fact, we don’t play.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Shams Charania on Twitter, 6/12/20: Kyrie Irving told NBA players on call Friday, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA@Stadium: “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. Something smells a little fishy.”

kuz on Twitter, 6/12/20: Some of us want to hoop and compete don’t get that twisted….

Patrick Beverley on Twitter, 6/14/20: Hoopers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping. Not Personal only BUSINESS #StayWoke

Ben DuBose on Twitter, 6/15/20: “ESPN’s reporting with players, agents, the NBPA and league officials over the weekend found no indication that the NBA’s return is in jeopardy — or that there’s even a significant group of players ready to sit out.”

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