The NBA is planning on restarting the 2019-20 season on July 30, but not everyone within the league is on board just yet.
Several reports surfaced on Friday detailing how a large group of players is concerned over potential safety regulations, the apparent lack of a true “bubble” concept, and how the current racial tensions could affect a return to play.
On Thursday, it felt like a return to professional basketball in late July was a sure-fire outcome. 24 hours later, however, fans have learned just how complicated this process actually is. It appears to stem from one major issue, which was originally reported by Taylor Rooks and Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, and later confirmed by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, that a “significant number of players disappointed their voice wasn’t heard in decision to restart season.”
As @TaylorRooks, @HowardBeck reports, Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has organized a call tonight for players to discuss what position they should take. He’s of mindset that during racial tension, not returning to play should be considered, sources say. https://t.co/8W8VaZMxQh
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 12, 2020
Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving, who will not participate in any return to play due to a pre-existing injury, has been a “driving force” in trying to create more transparency between the league’s top officials and all of the players – not just the high-profile members of the National Basketball Players Association. According to Rooks and Beck, up to 200 players could participate on the call set for Friday evening.
Adding to Taylor's report: I'm told today's conf call could involve up to 200 players. Also hearing that Kyrie Irving has been a driving force in organizing these calls, and in raising concerns over NBA's bubble plan. https://t.co/0voQafmveO
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) June 12, 2020
Throughout Friday, several prominent NBA players discovered via Twitter that they might not actually be as highly-quarantined in Orlando as originally thought. Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports reported that Disney employees be will be allowed to go in and out of the “bubble” as they please, even though NBA players will be forced to quarantine, raising concerns that the area isn’t isolated and is more of a petri dish.
Wait what? https://t.co/4ZCm5DxgjQ
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) June 12, 2020
So…there isn’t a bubble. https://t.co/ljLrsAbUhd
— JJ Redick (@jj_redick) June 12, 2020
Then it’s not a bubble…?? https://t.co/ZNvQ9UgA2L
— Tyus Jones (@1Tyus) June 12, 2020
The Disney staff will reportedly have to follow safety protocols, but will not be forced to remain within the bubble.
Sources: Protocols for Disney staff working NBA return site:
– Always wearing facemasks/gloves
– Strict physical distancing, never within 6 feet of NBA participant
– Temperature/symptom checks
– Housekeeping staff will never be in the room at same time as NBA participants
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 12, 2020
Along with a sense of feeling neglected, other players have expressed that they don’t want to be a pawn in helping the league recover lost revenue when coronavirus cases in Florida are currently on the rise and team owners sit safely at home. There has also been a concern that less-popular players going against a return to play would upset the stars of the league.
Haynes wrote that some players believe it is “bad optics” for the league to return to play during a massive movement for more racial justice, especially when you consider that the majority of players are Black.
“What message are we sending by agreeing to this during this time?” one anonymous Black player told Yahoo Sports. “We’re out here marching and protesting, and yet we all leave our families in these scary times and gather to perform at a place where the owners won’t be at? What type of sense does that make? We’ll be going backwards. That place isn’t that magical.”
The matter of allowing family members into the bubble is another area that needs to be fleshed out more. Anybody that comes to Orlando will technically be allowed to leave, but they would be subjected to a 10-day quarantine once they came back before they could have any human interaction.
But here’s the main issue with all of this and why canceling the season is still out of the question: everyone would lose a boatload of money, players included, and it could have devastating financial long term effects. Nate Jones, a longtime marketer within the NBA, tweeted in detail the catastrophic results that might come from a canceled season.
Hearing how players are feeling about going back under the restrictions that are being laid out. Players need to feel safe and comfortable as possible. That’s top priority. But they also need to fully understand and consider financial implications of ending the season.
— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) June 12, 2020
“Whatever choice they make, that needs to be fully understood,” Jones tweeted in the thread. “If the season is canceled, the NBA will 100% rip up the current CBA. Negotiating a new CBA in the middle of a pandemic will be an opportunity for ownership to try to take a bigger share of BRI and give less guarantees.”
There isn’t one singular issue that sticks out more than the others right now – all of them need serious attention. Canceling the season is the last thing anyone within the NBA wants to do, but ensuring that is proving to be much easier said than done.