Today it was reported that Kyrie Irving is becoming a leading force against the restart of the season, saying there’s going to be a 200 player zoom call with players throughout the league discussing whether they think the restart is a good idea. Initially I had some concerns about the restart, some were dismissed, some were not so I figured I’d write this article to lay out everything I’ve been hearing and have you guys decide for yourselves.
The initial concern on everyone’s mind I think is the players safety and the NBA’s already laid out a pretty convincing plan to address the health of the players. With the relocation to Disney’s sports complex in Orlando, the NBA was able to create about the closest thing to a bubble without literally creating a bubble. In this they are planning to test players before entering the complex, and regularly afterwards in order to make sure there’s no chance for player to player infection. Of course this can’t be perfect as other staff enter and exit the facility but in terms of risk, it’s about as low as you can get in times like this. Not only are the players safety being taken into account, the NBA is also removing fans from attendance which was an obvious choice on their part. What I’ve heard is that they are thinking about adding fan audio from NBA 2k as a replacement, which I’m eager to see if it will seem as off-putting as I imagine it could be.
Another concern, mostly for the players, is that if they decide against coming back then their salaries could be in jeopardy. Allegedly, players who do not play in the restarted season will not receive money for missed games. Teams that have been cut from the restart such as the Hawks, will be receiving their prorated salaries either way so only players who are scheduled to return are at risk. While the NBA says there won’t be any long term punishment for not returning, this still puts players at odds because while they invited to go to Disney, they are not allowed to bring family until 7 weeks into the restart which would end up being around the start of the playoffs. Forcing players to make these tough decisions could result in teams that look scarce for talent because while a lot of high caliber players and veterans might be willing to cut their pay for time with their family, low paid players and rookies that are looking to prove themselves might need this season more.
One concern I think is more a concern for the fans is that even if this season does restart, how legitimately will the results be recognized? I bring this up for a few reasons, the first being brought to light because of the most recent player to voice his opinion against the restart. While Kyrie Irving probably has more than a few reasons why he isn’t as gung-ho to get back into a restart, the one that stands out to me is that he doesn’t really have hope to contend for a Championship this season. With the Nets stating that Kevin Durant will absolutely not make a return this season, the Nets hopes for playoff contention this season went down the drain along with the players motivation to go back and play meaningless games. While I don’t think this is what altogether swings players decisions one way or another, I think high caliber players like Kyrie that already have the money aren’t as motivated to come back when there’s no hope of making something out of it. In contrast with this, players who do have a shot at the chip this season like Lebron have a real motivation to come back and play. With this mixed bag of motivation amongst the players, people will always question whether or not winning a championship during this time was really legitimate.
My last concern I wanted to bring up is one that Kyrie had stated was the reason for his stance against the restart, which is asking whether or not now is really the best time for the NBA to make a come back. With racial tensions at an all time high, and with people more motivated than ever to make real change for our country, is something like the NBA just going to take away from a cause that’s much bigger that Basketball? Obviously everyone, including me wants basketball back now more than ever but simply being bored is a selfish reason to distract from something that’s really effecting day to day life for millions of people. Right now with everyone sitting at home, people have the time and attention to dedicate towards fighting problems of systematic racism that should’ve been addressed years ago and the NBA coming back can only take attention away from that. I think this could be a highly debated concern but one that’s real nonetheless and hopefully we’ll be able to hear the opinions of the players after this zoom meeting.
Here’s a link to the ESPN article on Kyrie’s meeting!