NBA playoffs to resume Saturday as sides detail new commitments

NBA players want change that makes their communities safer. They want people to vote—hopefully in their home arenas.

And they want to keep playing basketball.

Teams returned to the court Friday after the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on commitments that made players comfortable continuing.

An emotional Chris Paul, the union president, detailed the events of the previous two days, when players upset by the latest police shooting of a Black man left them considering leaving the Disney campus and going home.

“We’re all hurt, we’re all tired of just seeing the same thing over and over again and everybody just expects us to be OK just because we get paid great money,” Paul said. “We’re human, we have real feelings and I’m glad that we got a chance to get in a room and talk with one another and not just cross paths and say good luck in your game today.”

All 13 teams remaining in the postseason scheduled practice Friday—the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, as Paul noted—although some declined to speak with reporters. Games are to resume Saturday.

Play stopped Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t take the court for their playoff game against Orlando, showing their frustration with the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and acts of racial injustice.

Games were postponed the last two days, during which players met among themselves and with coaches and owners before an agreement to resume was reached.

“The key to this thing is that I think we all needed to take a breath,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We needed a moment to breathe. It’s not lost on me that George Floyd didn’t get that moment. But we did and we took it. And the players took it, and they got to refocus on the things that they wanted to focus on outside of their jobs.”

High on that list is voting, mentioned frequently in a joint statement by the league and the NBPA.

Many within the league of primarily Black players have focused on the importance of voting, and the need for places in inner cities where minorities can do so safely. With no NBA games to play be played in November, arenas are an ideal place for it.

Atlanta, Detroit, Charlotte and Sacramento were already on board. Houston’s Toyota Center was locked in this week, Rivers said Miami is working hard to make its facility available and all team owners who also control their arena property will work with local officials to turn their buildings into a voting location for the 2020 general election to allow for safe, in-person voting.

Paul pointed out that practice facilities would be helpful if arenas can’t be secured.

The players and the league will also immediately establish a social justice coalition, made up of players, coaches and owners, that will focus on issues such as voting access and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform.

And the NBA and players will work with TV networks to create advertising spots during the remainder of the postseason to promote greater engagement in the election process and their communities.

Paul said he’d never seen anything like the events of the previous days during his 15 years in the league. He also spoke with Blake’s father.

Not continuing the playoffs would have been another crushing blow during an already damaging season financially for the NBA and its players.

With lost revenue from China after TV partners stopped televising games when Houston general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support of democratic protesters in Hong Kong, and no fans in arenas since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league was already headed for losses of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Players had other reasons for wanting to stay.

“We understand how strong our voice is, how powerful our voice is and ultimately we decided if we go away from this stage we don’t necessarily have that same platform so we stood in solidarity,” Paul said. “We’re going to continue to play but we’re also going to continue to make sure that our voices are heard.”

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6 thoughts on “NBA playoffs to resume Saturday as sides detail new commitments

  1. Criminals sad that criminals are being shot.
    Research the facts then let’s have a conversation about why we should ever care what you think.
    Overpaid babies. Clueless

  2. The players are primarily Black and many of them have had frightening encounters with the police. Good for them to use their platform to try to drive change in police conduct, that needs to happen. The officer who shot Mr. Blake in the back, 7 times, must be the biggest fool in America, unaware of the nationwide protests over police violence against Black men. What was he thinking, or was he thinking at all?

  3. They will blame COVID on waning fan interest – just like some people on IBJ who commented on restaurant closures did. However, restaurants outside of downtown are doing a booming business with long lines. Looks like COVID is not to blame for continuing closures of downtown restaurants.

    No one knows what happened in the Kenosha shooting. As usual, immediately begin rioting. Too bad the NBA doesn’t advise to 1) Don’t break laws 2) STOP if a policeman tells you to 3) Don’t resist arrest 4) Don’t lean into your car, as the officer doesn’t know if you are reaching for a gun or knife.

    Yes, three children were in the back seat when this happened, which is unfortunate. I believe the three children were exposed to domestic violence prior to this. We don’t yet know the story, so I don’t know about that. It was a call responding to domestic violence.

  4. When will they protest for the hundreds of young black men killed this year in Chicago by other black males? They won’t. But they will continue to burn, loot and murder over career criminals who resisted arrest

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