In March, the NBA was the first league to shut down following the positive coronavirus test of Jazz center Rudy Gobert. All leagues at all levels followed suit over the next few days.
On Wednesday, the NBA was the first to take action after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wis., with the Milwaukee Bucks igniting a walkout during the playoffs.
And for the second consecutive day Thursday, the NBA didn’t hold any playoff games and other leagues again followed suit, with the WNBA postponing its games again, the NHL postponing its playoff games, some NFL teams canceling practices and some MLB teams postponing their games, including the Twins vs. Tigers game in Detroit.
But it appears the NBA will return in the near future with multiple reports saying players, after multiple meetings Wednesday night and Thursday, have decided to continue to season.
ESPN reported that the three games that were supposed to take place Wednesday will likely take place Saturday and Thursday’s three games would take place Sunday. NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said it’s also possible the league resumes Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Wednesday was a tense night across the NBA, as the remaining playoff teams in Orlando held a meeting to air frustrations and discuss their next moves. Would they stop playing? When would they resume the season? If they did stop playing, what did they hope to accomplish in sending that message?
The league’s Board of Governors also met Thursday and a meeting was scheduled Thursday night between owners and players, with Michael Jordan playing a key role in the latter meeting.
Social justice reform has been at the top of mind for NBA players since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Some players voiced their concerns before the NBA restarted its season that playing games would distract from the momentum for change that came after Floyd’s death.
Ultimately, players decided to resume the season and use their platform to try to enact that change. Lakers forward LeBron James has undertaken efforts to register people to vote. The league has “Black Lives Matter” painted on its floors and players have worn league-approved slogans on the back of their jerseys such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Education Reform,” “I Am a Man” and “Vote.”
“We obviously agree that whether we play or not, we still have to do our best to make change and we still have to do our part in the community,” Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said in a video interview with a Magic public relations official. “It’s obviously not easy, given everything that’s going on. But I think that if we can go out there and do our best and also have a list of things that we want to accomplish, everything gets completed.”
The NBA’s actions caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who was asked about the walkout Thursday.
“They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing,” Trump told reporters. “I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
ESPN reported that in the meetings, union President Chris Paul and Vice President Andre Iguodala went over the potential financial ramifications of permanently canceling the season. Some questioned why the Bucks took unilateral action without consulting other players first. Others stood up for the Bucks.
Players and coaches gave emotionally charged speeches advocating for collective action and for using their platform for good, whatever way they decided to go. After that tense meeting Wednesday night, they reconvened Thursday with cooler heads and ultimately decided to keep playing.