Though several NBA players on Friday reportedly voiced their opposition to resuming the season as a protest against racism and social injustice, ESPN reported that the Los Angeles Lakers’ players remain undivided on the resumption of the season.
The news came a day after Lakers backup center Dwight Howard told CNN that now is not the time to resume basketball in light of the protests that broke out across the nation and the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last month.
Contrary to Howard’s statement, however, more than one Lakers player told ESPN everyone is on the same page.
“(There is) no divide,” one Lakers player told ESPN.
“Still have some time to figure things out as a league and as a team,” another said.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving reportedly lobbied fellow players on Friday to sit out the scheduled resumption of play as a protest against racism, multiple media outlets reported.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Irving told more than 80 NBA players on a conference call, “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the (expletive). Something smells a little fishy. ... I’m willing to give up everything I have (for social reform).”
ESPN reported that the Lakers initially had concerns after hearing Howard’s comments, but his agent, Charles Briscoe, told the outlet Howard has not made a decision about playing this season as he has not thought about basketball in recent weeks.
“The statement was about social injustice and racism,” Briscoe told ESPN. “Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played. He isn’t saying that basketball shouldn’t be. He’s just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what’s going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day. But what’s going on with people dying in the streets, that’s something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice.”
One Lakers player who has not spoken out against resuming play is Lakers star LeBron James. On Sunday, Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley tweeted that if James is ready to play, all players better be ready for play to resume.
“Hoopers say what y’all want,” Beverley tweeted. “If @KingJames said he hooping. We all hooping. Not Personal only BUSINESS #StayWoke.”
The NBA hasn’t played since March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The league intends to finish the coronavirus-interrupted season and the playoffs at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. Training camp is set to be held July 9-29 before the season restarts July 30.
Floyd, a black man, died May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked global protests, and sports teams throughout the U.S. have spoken out publicly against racism, with several teams taking part in protests.
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