“I think guys are gathering to really talk about and dive deep into the idea of not playing.”
Prior to the 2014 release of an audio recording of racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Serling, it was uncommon for Black players in the NBA to publicly discuss racism. The tape, however, changed all that. In the documentary Blackballed, players recounted the difficult choice they faced in deciding whether to not play for the rest of the season—they were on track to make it into the Playoffs. In the end, the players’s statements and unified actions as a team resulted in the forced sale of Donald Serling’s ownership of the team. What a difference in the world six years later.
The NBA is in the process of establishing safety protocols for the upcoming season. For all professionial sports, there is talk of somehow creating an isolation bubble so that players don’t infect each other with COVID-19. In theory, it means limiting player contact to a small “quaranteam” outside of the stadium. The George Floyd protests, however, have seen increased activism by players supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. And that public activism, including involvement in protests, puts them in conflict with maintaining an isolation bubble during the season.
It opens up the question of whether players in other sports, such as the MLB whose season starts possibly maybe “it’s anyone’s guess” in mid-July, will also call for postponing their seasons.