In discussing the resumption of the NBA postseason with the league’s board of governors, players have intimated that they want ownership to be more proactive in enacting social change rather than simply reacting to incidents as they arise, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. LeBron James reportedly preferred to end the season Wednesday night, and though he was ultimately swayed as players decided to resume play, he was the final speaker during Thursday’s meeting between the two sides and made it clear that owners need to dedicate themselves to the racial justice cause, according to Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks.
Owners are not known to have made any new firm commitments relating to social justice reform as of yet. Earlier this month, the NBA and NBPA announced the creation of a joint $300 million fund meant to help Black-owned businesses, That decision was reactive, though, as it came in response to concerns raised by a coalition of players led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley. Players do not want to need to put pressure on ownership to fight for social justice.
In that vein, the fact that they decided to resume the postseason before meeting with ownership can be viewed as a show of good faith. They did not make an explicit demand about what would be needed to finish the season. Instead, they are putting the onus on ownership to prove to them that they are willing to take the necessary steps towards racial equality in the United States without being prompted toward specific action. The players sacrificed a good deal of leverage by agreeing to play right away. The ball is now in ownership’s court.
When play resumes, there will undoubtedly be demonstrations on the floor dedicated to Jacob Blake and further conveying the players’ message of racial justice. But eventually, the season will end, the bubble will disappear, and things will move closer to something resembling normalcy. Players don’t want to lose the momentum they’ve built when that happens. They’ve dedicated themselves to this cause, and now they expect their billionaire business partners to do the same.