As the NBA and NBPA work towards a full agreement on a return to play plan for the 22-team, 8-game race to the playoffs in Orlando, there is a growing number of players voicing their concerns and questions about the Disney bubble.
Kyrie Irving, Avery Bradley, and others from the NBA, WNBA, and beyond have formed a coalition to present those concerns. Some of them have concerns about basketball distracting from the Black Lives Matter movement and player activism, while others are worried about the safety of the bubble and whether the restart is worth it. There are, of course, significant financial ramifications for the league and players should they scrap restart plans, and it’s something all parties understand. However, voicing concerns of those in the union is the job of a VP like Kyrie, and if nothing else he wants to provide a platform for those to be raised and to ensure they are discussed and, if possible, settled with the league before play resumes.
John Wall, like Kyrie, will not be playing in the bubble no matter what as he continues to work his way back from an Achilles injury, but the Wizards’ All-Star point guard gave public backing to Irving and other players raising concerns noting on ‘The Tuff Juice Podcast” with Caron Butler that if he were healthy he wouldn’t want to play, saying he’s not convinced the bubble is safe (transcription via NBC Sports Washington).
“For me, if I was playing, I wouldn’t want to go to it, to be honest. I just don’t feel like it’s safe. I just don’t feel like it is. I understand why they want to do it and what they’re trying to get to, but I wouldn’t want to,” Wall said.
Wall also highlighted that he believes Kyrie has “a point” about not wanting to detract from the Black Lives Matter movement, and that he is more than understanding of players that take that stance.
“Kyrie has his things where he be in his own world… ‘The Earth is flat,’” he said. “But to be honest, I think he has a point. A lot of people feel that way. I think that’s why they tried to get on that call to see how many people really want to go play and how many people don’t want to play. Because with all this ‘Black Lives Matter’ going on and protesting and trying to get justice and all that; a lot of people feel like it’s not safe to go there. That’s what he stands on.”
There will of course be those that point out that both Irving and Wall have the benefit of being able to say they don’t want to go when they wouldn’t anyway due to health, but that two of the league’s All-Star caliber players are noting these questions they have is important. It’s important in making players of smaller stature in the league feel like they can have concerns as well, while also pushing these questions into the mind of the public to encourage discussion between the union and league to try and alleviate at least some of these worries with action.