The last 24 hours in the NBA have been spent in various meetings for players, coaches, and owners, as they all look to determine the next steps after the Bucks led the league to postpone play on Wednesday after refusing to play Game 5 against the Magic in protest of the police shooting Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Players held a lengthy meeting on Wednesday night that was, reportedly, contentious at times, which is more than understandable given the gravity of the situation and the stress the players are all facing. On Thursday morning, they came together again to meet, and determined it was best to move forward with playing the playoffs, with the expectation of games starting again on Saturday. At the same time, the Board of Governors met, with Michael Jordan reportedly calling on his fellow owners to listen to the players in this moment.
Later in the evening, both parties came together to discuss what would come next, with player representatives from each team on a call with owners to discuss how they can proceed. According to Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, the last person to speak on the call was LeBron James, calling on owners to “truly dedicate” themselves to combating racism.
Sources say Lebron James was the last player to speak on the call and he delivered a strong, thoughtful message to the owners. His main point was that the work has to continue, and the owners have to truly dedicate to advancing this cause.
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 27, 2020
One of the frustrations from some players has been the lack of a full plan for how they want to move forward, but the clearest message from the players is that they want to see more from ownership. Some have wondered what more they want, citing the league’s $300 million pledge for 10 years to social justice, but this isn’t simply about donating money. They want them to use their influence and power as billionaires who have successfully lobbied for hundreds of millions of dollars from local government for arenas, to use that same energy to push for justice reform from the same lawmakers. They want arenas, most all of which have been built with public funding, to be turned into voting centers — as some have taken steps to make happen, most recently in Houston.
They want owners to not just give some money and a statement, but, as James said, dedicate themselves to the cause. These are people with immense power and influence in the world because of their money, and they have the ears of politicians who otherwise seem happy to ignore the pleas of regular people.