Irving, vice president of the NBA Players Association, held a Zoom call that included more than 80 NBA players and a handful of WNBA players discussing social justice reform and if their leagues should return to games next month. Some players, including Irving, are against playing games so that they can focus on racial oppression and systemic racism in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
Williams: Sports now a distraction, not healing
Williams made the remarks in the comments of an Instagram post made by Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks. Rooks posted a screenshot of her tweet on the call hosted by Irving, which focused on the pros and cons of returning to the NBA and WNBA seasons right now.
“Sources tell me majority of the NBA call was on social justice reform,” the tweet reads. “It lasted for about 2 hours, but over an hour was dedicated to that. While they are absolutely all concerned about COVID and that was a vital part of the conversation. Racial injustice is the #1 talking point.”
Williams, 33, commented “Make it make sense, that’s all,” and replied to a fan who asked why it was a problem to continue the season now.
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) June 13, 2020
and we are fighting for a radical change. Sports has been a healing factor, there we agree. In this climate...it’s a distraction. I mean look at your position. You’re dying to get back in the house and drink a beer and watch us hoop opposed to being outside fighting for your equality. That’s just one aspect to look at.
Thousands have taken to the streets over the past three weeks to protest racial injustice and police brutality. The issue has stayed in the national consciousness due in part to millions being out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis and businesses around the country only just recently opening back up.
Irving reportedly concerned about optics
Williams talking about fans wanting to “get back in the house and drink a beer and watch us hoop” rather than fight for change and equality is along the lines of a concern Irving reportedly has about returning.
Sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that the Nets star is worried about the optics of a predominantly black league playing in quarantine for three months to entertain the nation. Either way, Irving likely won’t play after having shoulder surgery on March 3.
Other players have joined him in a similar concern, and would rather be at protests and working for societal change with the nation’s full attention at hand. Other high-profile players reportedly plan to use a return to games as a larger platform to promote and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
LeBron James was reportedly not on the call because he believes he can play and continue his social justice work and activism at the same time. This week he and other athletes started More Than a Vote to increase African American turnout and share information about voting rights and protections.
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