LeBron James, according to reports, was one of the primary voices that led to the Los Angeles Lakers joining the Los Angeles Clippers as the only two teams to informally vote to stop the 2020 NBA playoffs on Wednesday night. Every player from every team in the Orlando Bubble met for a meeting following the strike that led to three NBA games getting postponed, and as it was told, James voiced his support for not playing basketball again this year before leaving the meeting altogether.
There is, however, apparently a bit more to it than that. According to a report by The Athletic, James was not necessarily against playing basketball again this year. Instead, his decision to walk out of the meeting stemmed more from the desire to sleep on a decision of this magnitude. He was not happy during the meeting, but that was reportedly due to the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t alert other players when they went on strike before their game against the Orlando Magic, which kicked off a series of events that impacted far more than the NBA.
His frustration, per sources both in and outside of his camp, was not with those who wanted to to continue to play; it was with the lack of a plan going forward after the Bucks caught most of their playing brethren off guard with their decision to walk out Wednesday. The Lakers’ team vote Wednesday night, per a source, was not unanimous; some players wanted to keep playing, while others wanted to walk. And, as ever, people then looked to James.
“’They’re going with whatever you (James) want to do,’” a source said. “’Do you want to play or do you not want to play?’” And that’s when James figuratively said ‘let me sleep on it,’ and left the meeting, only to continue the discussion into the night.
James is the most powerful player in the league, so it makes sense that he would want to be as meticulous and thoughtful as possible before making a decision of this magnitude. Still, this clarifies one of the biggest revelations from Wednesday night — James supporting not playing — and is not the first report we have seen of players expressing frustration with the Bucks not discussing what they planned on doing as a collective with other players in the Bubble, although it’s been mentioned that Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics spoke up in support of them during the meeting.
The playoffs appear to be back on now, with the expectation of play resuming on Saturday, but owners still have to meet to determine what they’ll do to appease players who want owners to wield their power in influencing change at a systemic level.