Will the NBA really play?

League ap­pears on track to restart next month de­spite protests.

Orlando Sentinel - - Front Page - By Iliana Limón Romero

While Kyrie Irving is lead­ing a con­tin­gent of NBA play­ers ar­gu­ing they should not re­sume play in Or­lando and in­stead fo­cus on so­cial jus­tice re­form, there are signs the NBA is on track to com­pete at ESPN Wide World of Sports later this sum­mer.

Irving re­port­edly helped lead two player phone meet­ings on Fri­day and Mon­day, ar­gu­ing some­thing “smelled fishy” about re­sum­ing play rather than de­vot­ing all time to sup­port­ing the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment.

“I don’t sup­port go­ing to Or­lando,” Irving said dur­ing a call Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to The Ath­letic. “I’m not with the sys­tem­atic racism.”

For­mer Win­ter Park High star Austin Rivers, who plays for the Hous­ton Rock­ets, was among those who tried to re­spect­fully push back in fa­vor of us­ing the Or­lando games as a stage to push for change.

“Us com­ing back would put money in all … [NBA play­ers’] pock­ets,” Rivers wrote. “With this money you could help out even more peo­ple and con­tinue to give more im­por­tantly your time and en­ergy to­wards the BLM move­ment. Which I’m 100% on board with. Be­cause change needs to hap­pen and in­jus­tice has been go­ing on too long.”

Irving is out for the rest of the sea­son due to in­jury and is among the league’s high­er­paid play­ers.

Rivers posted he knew nu­mer­ous play­ers need their pay­checks and wrote Irving had made more money than “99%” of the league.

“I love Kyrie’s pas­sion to­wards help­ing this move­ment,” Rivers wrote. “It’s ad­mirable and in­spir­ing. I’m with it … but not at the cost of the whole NBA and play­ers’ ca­reers. We can do both. We can play and we can help change the way black lives are lived. I think we have [to]!

“But can­cel­ing and boy­cotting [a] re­turn doesn’t do that in my opin­ion. Guys want to

play and pro­vide and help change !!!! ”

Dwight Howard, a backup Lak­ers cen­ter and for­mer Or­lando Magic All-Star, has been vo­cal about not play­ing.

Howard sent a lengthy state­ment to CNN op­pos­ing the Or­lando tour­na­ment.

“I agree with Kyrie [Irving]. Bas­ket­ball, or en­ter­tain­ment pe­riod, isn’t needed at this mo­ment, and will only be a dis­trac­tion,” Howard wrote.

His agent later said Howard had not yet made a fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether he would play in Or­lando.

NBA of­fi­cials said Sun­day they are work­ing to ad­dress player com­ments.

“We un­der­stand the play­ers’ con­cerns and are work­ing with the Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion on find­ing the right bal­ance to ad­dress them,” league spokesman Mike Bass said in a state­ment.

The NBA Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion has been meet­ing with play­ers about their so­cial jus­tice con­cerns, ac­cord­ing to ESPN.

Lak­ers star LeBron James, who has been out­spo­ken on so­cial jus­tice is­sues and is de­vel­op­ing ini­tia­tives to sup­port Black Lives Mat­ter, has been on board with the plan to re­sume play in Or­lando.

Clip­pers guard Pa­trick Beverley posted on Twit­ter Sun­day that the play­ers would fol­low James’ lead.

“Hoop­ers say what y’all want. If @KingJames said he hoop­ing. We all hoop­ing,” Beverley posted on Twit­ter. “Not Per­sonal only BUSI­NESS.”

NELL RED­MOND/AP

Hous­ton Rock­ets guard Austin Rivers, a Win­ter Park High alum, said he sup­ports re­sum­ing play in Or­lando de­spite some player con­cerns about the plan. “We can play and we can help change the way black lives are lived,” Rivers said.

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