Last week, Lou Williams said that he thought the NBA coming back would be a “distraction”, one that would impede social movements aimed towards combating systemic racism. The prospect of being a distraction has led Williams to consider his participation if and when the NBA does return.
In a virtual chat hosted by CoStar, Williams said that he is “50-50” on playing out the rest of the season:
“Because it looks like that we don’t care. If we do suit up — and we are having conversations behind closed doors — how much of this platform can we really use? Can we get a Black Lives Matter patch on our jersey? Can our jerseys say Black Lives Matter? Can the court say Black Lives Matter? So we can use that platform to the best of our abilities. Honestly, it is hard to call. I’m 50-50, to be honest with you.”
The NBA has attempted to assuage the players’ concerns about keeping the protests alive even when they are in Orlando, and there is an argument to be made that the players’ voices will be magnified if they are all together making a collective statement. Doc Rivers and his son Austin both believe that the platform the league provides will benefit the players in impacting social justice.
That being said, the amount of air space that even a stupid NBA argument takes up — consider what happened this weekend when Lou Williams was compared to a bench player on the Lakers — corroborates Williams’ point that basketball can be a distraction from important issues. After being starved of real sports content for months, people may unconsciously forget the outside world if the NBA is back.
Williams has a point, Rivers has a point, and the entire discussion has been a useful exercise in keeping the league accountable, if nothing else. There is no wrong answer here. Each individual player deserves his space to make a decision. Credit to Williams for contributing to the cause thus far and for making a thoughtful choice on how best to proceed.
On to the links...
- The Clippers celebrated Juneteenth by giving their employees the day off and creating a petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
- The team is reportedly agreeing to terms with Joakim Noah for the last open spot on the roster, but in case anything changes, here are the top free agents left on the market.
- More rules on what transactions teams can make between now and the resumption of the season.
- August 17 is the new deadline for early entrants into the NBA Draft.
- The NBA is concerned about the spike in positive coronavirus tests in Florida and is attempting to make the bubble as secure as possible for its players and personnel. Meanwhile, the Chinese Basketball Association is back.
- A perspective from a former NBA player and executive on player activism.
- The Clippers won the NBA Finals in the Strat-O-Matic simulation. It’s a really strange box score, with Reggie Jackson starting in place of Patrick Beverley and Kawhi Leonard being so ineffective on offense, but the Clippers got the job done right at the tail end of Video Game Week.