Last week, players around the NBA made the historic and unprecedented decision to strike in the midst of the playoffs in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In the immediate aftermath of the walkout, there was confusion and uncertainty around both how the players came to their decision as well as their plan for potentially resuming play. Teams in Orlando met collectively last Wednesday night to discuss their options, and the picture that has since emerged is one fraught with tension and a certain level of dysfunction among their ranks.
Initial reports indicated that both the Lakers and the Clippers voted to end the season and leave Orlando altogether so that they could focus on social justice reform, but the details about how this came about remain murky, at best. Clippers guard Lou Williams attempted to clarify the situation when speaking to reporters on Wednesday, suggesting that what took place was more of an informal poll and discussion rather than an official vote, but added that the discussions fell apart as emotions ran hot.
Clippers guard Lou Williams filling in the details on how the team mulled whether to play or stop the season pic.twitter.com/ksBxLoLo37
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) September 1, 2020
“It was never a decision,” Williams said. “It was a poll being taken in the room, and what was supposed to happen was that there was supposed to be conversation, why this team feels like this, why this team feels like that. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that far. Emotions were running high. And then the reports came out that we were one of the teams to say no. So we never had an opportunity to really explain our position because, truth be told, we didn’t really know our position.”
Regardless of how it came out, the strike resulted in league owners implemented a multi-tiered coalition to ramp up their efforts toward social reform, one that includes earmarking significant funds for equal justice initiatives, launching a media campaign designed to educate the public on these causes, and turning team-owned arenas into voting stations for the upcoming election.