The NBA postponed games for the past two days and likely won’t resume the postseason until Saturday amid players protesting the latest incident of police shooting a Black man, when Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Milwaukee Bucks chose to sit out their Game 5 in protest, leading to the rest of the league choosing to follow suit, as well as the WNBA, MLS, some MLB teams, the ATP and WTA (after Naomi Osaka announced she wouldn’t play Thursday) and even the NHL on Thursday. On Wednesday night, players met in a tense meeting in Orlando, which involved reports of the Lakers and Clippers pushing to not play the remainder of the season (although recent reports indicate LeBron James was maybe not as adamant about not playing as was initially reported) and players held another meeting on Thursday morning. In that meeting, it was decided to continue playing, but also to continue coming up with a plan of action and some demands they want to see from ownership in stepping up further alongside of them in the fight for social justice.
While the players were meeting on Thursday, the NBA’s Board of Governors did the same and, according to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Michael Jordan served as something of an intermediary between the players and the owners. Per MacMullan, Jordan spoke with Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook about what players wanted, and pushed owners to listen to the players in this moment.
The owners held a virtual meeting on Thursday morning and, it has been confirmed by two participants, Jordan was a voice of reason, urging the other owners to allow the players to express their frustrations and concerns before offering any of their own solutions.
“Right now, listening is better than talking,” Jordan told the group, according to sources.
Players are trying to come together on what they want and it was never realistic to expect one (or even two) meetings in a short span to fully produce a plan of action, and it seems Jordan is urging his fellow team owners to give the players time to do that. Jordan is obviously the owner most connected to the players as the only former player (and only Black) majority team owner, so it makes sense that he would be this kind of voice of reason in the moment.
Now it’s on the players to articulate what they want from owners, and more importantly it’s on owners to heed Jordan’s advice and take to heart what players ask them to do.