Kyrie Irving Doesn’t Support The NBA Restart And Says ‘Something Smells A Little Fishy’

Last week, the NBA and the NBPA voted to approve the proposed plan to resume the season in late July, with all personnel involved slated to be under quarantine protocols for up to three-and-a-half months in a bubble location at the Disney World Resort in Orlando.

However, a significant number of players have reportedly cooled in that idea, citing various concerns about both the safety measures that will be necessary to do so responsibly, as well as the implications of distracting attention from the ongoing protests that have gripped the country in a renewed fight for equal justice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Kyrie Irving hosted a conference call with approximately 80 players via Zoom on Friday night to discuss their concerns about the restart, including what it would look like — individually and collectively — to opt out of participating in Orlando later this summer. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Irving reportedly came out against the restart, in part insinuating that it would distract from the Black Lives Matter movement across the country.

Irving himself has said previously that he won’t suit up for the Nets when the season resumes, as he is still rehabbing from an injury that required season-ending surgery earlier this year. Because of that, Irving would still receive pay. Other healthy players who decline to join their teams in the restart, however, would not, which puts a disproportionate amount of pressure on the league’s lower-tier players, a disparity that Irving also addressed.

In the reports trickling in immediately after the call, it remained unclear if there was anything resembling a consensus among the rest of the players involved, although the WNBA has apparently decided to follow the NBA’s lead on this.

Many have pointed out that a unified stance against resuming the season could ultimately constitute a lockout and therefore a renegotiation of the current collective bargaining agreement, which would result in major financial implications and could delay the start of the following season. Irving, however, expressed his own willingness to accept those consequences.

Still, it remains unclear what will come of Friday night’s conference call, as the planned restart has suddenly been called into question despite what had previously looked like widespread agreement among both the league and the players.