It’s been three full months since the NBA season went on hiatus amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But with many states relaxing their social distancing measures and attempting to enact full-scale re-openings, it’s clear that Americans are tiring of their isolation and are eager to get things back to a sense of normalcy.
The only problem is that the pandemic hasn’t shown many signs of going away anytime soon, as several places have shown spikes in cases in recent weeks. Regardless, the NBA is moving full steam ahead on resuming its season at the end of July at the Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Last week, the NBPA approved a plan that would include 22 teams finishing out an eight-game regular season, followed by the playoffs, in a venture that would require everyone involved to be quarantined in the bubble location for three-and-a-half months. Despite the vote, it’s slowly coming out that not everyone is thrilled with that idea, especially given the added civil unrest that has gripped the nation amid the George Floyd protests.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, there is a growing contingent of unnamed players who believe it’s “bad optics” to restart the season with so much going on in the world.
“What message are we sending by agreeing to this during this time?” a black player told Yahoo Sports. “We’re out here marching and protesting, and yet we all leave our families in these scary times and gather to perform at a place where the owners won’t be at? What type of sense does that make? We’ll be going backwards. That place isn’t that magical.”
Sources said several players have been reluctant to express their views in fear of opposing the superstars who are adamant about playing if proper safety measures are in place.
Then there is a faction of players that is noncommittal on a return because it hasn’t received enough feedback and information on how the league plans to facilitate a safe haven, sources said. Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony expressed this very concern to Ernie Johnson in an NBA Together Twitter Live session.
Despite their trepidation, it’s been made clear that players would be allowed to skip the restart, although those who do not choose to participate in Orlando would not receive pay, a reality that puts disproportionate pressure on the league’s lower-tier players to show up. Still, a lot can happen between now and the end of July, and with some players noncommittal about the return, the rosters in Orlando could look significantly different than we might expect.