A recognizable figure has emerged as a go-between the NBA players and the owners: Michael Jordan. Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets — and the only Black majority owner in the league — reached out to National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN, in advance of the owners meeting to get a better understanding of what the players hoped to achieve going forward and to offer assistance as they make their case to the NBA’s board of governors. Jordan also spoke with Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook about issues of social justice that initially left some stars advocating for the cancellation of the season.
The owners held a virtual meeting on Thursday morning and, it has been confirmed by two participants, Jordan was a voice of reason, urging the other owners to allow the players to express their frustrations and concerns before offering any of their own solutions. "Right now, listening is better than talking," Jordan told the group, according to sources.
Many of the owners, including Jordan, sources said, favored continuing the season, believing that the games were still the best and most visible platform for social change. The owners will meet again later Thursday to discuss specific ways in which they can help the players meet their goals while continuing to compete for an NBA title, as well as to discuss the scheduling of the resumption of play in the bubble.
Barack Obama: I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.
In interviews today, Jared Kushner, a White House senior adviser and the president's son-in-law, discounted the player strikes. "Look, I think that the NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they're able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially," White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNBC. "So they have that luxury, which is great."
Davide Chinellato: President Donald Trump: "The #NBA has become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country"
Alykhan Bijani: Tilman Fertitta: “It’s a different generation. If you’re not a flexible person and you don’t see other people’s views, you’re not going to do well in this world today. And so I respect them. I stand by them. They’re my partners.” #Rockets #NBA pic.twitter.com/x3nZ4c4ndt
Sopan Deb: Tilman Fertitta on the player stoppage: "I think they just needed a pause. They've been playing every other day. These are our partners, okay? We’re 50/50 partners. And if we do well, they do well. And if the league doesn't do well, none of us do well. And they realize that." pic.twitter.com/u1pGxBClfC
Alykhan Bijani: Tilman Fertitta says he disagrees with President Trump calling the NBA a political organization. “I think the #Rockets are a political organization...I think that is not a good statement. I don’t know why he made that statement. It’s disappointing.” pic.twitter.com/0zrMeVNjN3
Shams Charania: NBA statement on hopeful Postseason return on Friday or Saturday. pic.twitter.com/Qn0fcC7KHa
Keith Pompey: The #NBA games will resume on Saturday, according to source.
To help explain what happened and what might come next, GQ called up Len Elmore, a former NBA player with a background in law who now teaches at Columbia University on subjects including athlete activism and social justice in sports.
Even within these strange, sad times we’re living in, yesterday’s decision feels like it will echo for years to come. Just how historic was it? Len Elmore: From the standpoint of a unified position by a team, across leagues, it’s right up there with the assassinations of Dr. King and, before that even, JFK. How can you conduct sport when there’s so many larger, more significant things at hand? However, what makes this unprecedented is the fact that there’s a reason, a basis behind this. This is a protest of systemic racism catalyzed by another shooting of an unarmed Black man. We’ve never seen that. And it wasn’t spurred on by any kind of national power. This was done by the individual players, predominantly Black players, who are standing up and using their platform to make a statement. And the question is, will you sustain the impact or is this just a one-off thing that comes and goes?
Len Elmore: We have a country in upheaval. We have a situation where there are so many people in mourning—not the officials but those who participate, and it’s them who made this decision. That’s what makes this unprecedented.
Last night the league tweeted that the three playoff games have been “postponed” and will be rescheduled. Can you explain why they did this? Len Elmore: At this stage, they think that it bodes well to sympathize. Let’s see how long that lasts. The longer the players decide they’re not gonna play, the more you have an impact on the league and the owners, on their pocketbook and their profitability. If this thing lasts a week, two weeks, then it becomes a different story. This league right now is trying to maintain good will between those who are essentially adversarial, the union and management. But the longer they stay out, the more that good will dissipates.
If this were a one- or two-game boycott by the players and then they returned to action, how do you think this would be remembered? Len Elmore: I think it would be remembered as symbolic, and from a collective bargaining position down the road, it would be a tell for the owners to realize that these guys can’t hold out. I think they’d use it down the road in their bargaining strategy.
NBA players voted to resume the playoffs in a meeting Thursday morning after walking out on Wednesday’s slate of games, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The agreement occurred at Disney’s Corona Springs Resort in a meeting that lasted a little less than an hour, sources said. It was the players’ second meeting in the last 15 hours.
Thursday’s scheduled playoff games will be postponed, sources said. In Wednesday night’s meeting, frustration mounted and tension grew among the players, who were irritated by a lack of strategic unity, sources said. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers voted against resuming the playoffs last night and were the first two teams to exit the meeting, sources said.
LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard expressed a desire to return home, sources said, but in Thursday’s meeting, James related that it was in the best interest of the players to finish what they started. Anthony Davis was on board with whatever the players decided, sources said.
Shams Charania: Sources: NBA players -- and league -- are aiming to restart games Friday.
Jeff Goodman: There will be another meeting at 4 p.m. with two NBA players from each team to discuss the specific items that the players want to be addressed, source told @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA's players have decided to resume the playoffs, source tells ESPN.
He had those 20 minutes to digest it and the knowledge that everything was in tremendous flux and probably would continue to be for days and weeks. But also, Myers had things he wanted to say about the protests of police brutality against Blacks, most recently the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday. Which led to the justifiable outrage of the players in the playoff bubble and to Wednesday’s unprecedented, historic walkouts.
“You’ve gotta respect the players,” Myers said. “They’re the ones putting themselves on the line here. And you have to respect that. And hopefully, it’s a message to all of us. This is not a fight they can win alone. It’s going to take everybody’s help. I commend them for putting themselves — you know, they’re the ones risking something right now. So I commend them for that.”
“I certainly know this, it gets people’s attention,” Myers said. “There’s a light. Players, listening to them, they’re the ones that are putting themselves on the line here. Mostly them. You have to respect their position, you have to respect their thoughts behind it. Just getting it in real-time and first hand, it’s just sad.
“Players want to play. You’ve gotta understand, this is not something I imagine they did light-heartedly or without thought or intention. You think players don’t want to play a playoff game? To have them take these steps, they’re hurting and that’s real. These guys probably have lived their whole lives dreaming … some of them … of playing in the playoffs for the first time, trying to win a championship. And to put that on hold, that’s a real statement. That tells you how much it means to them and you have to respect that.”
Vincent Goodwill: Sources to @YahooSports: After emotional meeting, the feeling is most players want to continue playing but also want to know the board of governors are going to support them on pushing policy changes.
There is a sense of fatigue among many -- emotions spilling over from the trauma of watching the shooting on video, listening to the rhetoric of the Republican National Convention and players feeling like they're being held in captivity in the bubble. "I think there will be a chance for guys to have clearer heads on [Thursday] morning," one team executive said. "But none of us really know where this is headed."
Miami Heat forward Andre Iguodala explained that societal change must come through political action, which can often be tedious. How many of them, he asked, were aware that California was set to vote on a landmark police reform bill on Friday? How many were even registered to vote? The union had data suggesting that number was extremely low.
Houston Rockets assistant coach John Lucas gave a stirring speech about how far players had come since the time he'd played in the NBA. "This is your moment," Lucas told them. He encouraged the players to speak to commissioner Adam Silver and the owners, and ask them to use their power to do more.
The league's owners had committed to contributing $300 million over the next 10 years to a foundation that would create economic opportunity and empowerment in the Black community. But sources said that at last month's board of governors meeting, owners had discussed whether to ask the National Basketball Players Association to contribute to that as well. "What is it they think the league can do?" one owner wondered. "We have been fully supportive."
Sopan Deb: !!! Marc Short, a top White House official, to CNN on the NBA strike: "In my mind, it’s absurd and silly." Also: "If they want to protest, I don't think we care." pic.twitter.com/SFCSTtEFto
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said National Basketball Association players who postponed games to protest racial injustice in police shootings have the “luxury” to take a night off. “The NBA players are very fortunate that they have the financial position where they’re able to take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially,” Kushner, who is a senior adviser in the White House, said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday. “So they have that luxury, which is great.”
Shortly after his CNBC interview, Kushner elaborated on his remarks in an interview with Politico. “What I’d love to see from the players in the NBA -- again, they have the luxury of taking a night off from work, most Americans don’t have the financial luxury to do that,” he said. “It’s nice that they’re standing up for the issue, but I’d like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive.”
gifdsports: Jaylen Brown reportedly challenged players who want to leave bubble and go home "If you leave, are you going to leave and hang out with your families?are you going to be in the trenches, are you going to be in the streets? (via @MarcJSpears )
Draymond Green: But why can sports wait? Because it’s a sport? It to is a business, like the many other businesses in the world. Why is it that sports can wait but other businesses should not? If that is the case why shouldn’t the CEO of YouTube boycott Alphabet? Or the President of Apple boycott the company? But you say basketball can wait... Is it because sports(the platform) has afforded the athletes involved such huge platforms? Or maybe the athletes involved past and present actually afforded sports those platforms, that the many athletes currently have today(that’s neither here nor there). The notion that athletes should just stop working but no one else in the world should stop is baffling to me.
Draymond Green: Why stop doing the very thing that offers you the biggest platform to speak for those that look like me/a lot of us. To do that is to actually give up the platform to speak for them, because without us using our platforms which is afforded by the influence of the sport, it actually stops us from echoing what those in the back are saying. Those people then will never truly be heard. Athletes stand with the people, no secret there, but to actually tell athletes to stop doing what provides that platform to speak for the people is actually counterproductive. In my opinion.
Brad Turner: Sources: Lakers forward LeBron James and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard both spoke up in the players meeting Wednesday night and were adamant about not playing the rest of the playoffs and they wanted change. The players will have another meeting at 11 am East time Thursday.
In the meeting, Lakers star LeBron James never said he didn't want to play but that he did want to hear from owners on how they can help the players enact the change they want to see, a person told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Reporting with @malika_andrews: The NBA players have another meeting set for Thursday morning in the bubble to continue the discussion on how they'll proceed with the playoffs.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The meeting is 11 AM -- coinciding with the timing of the NBA's Board of Governors call, per sources.
There will be another meeting on Thursday, a Board of Governors call, too, but it remains uncertain as to exactly what more the NBA can offer, nor is it clear how far players are willing to go. Walking away from the season would be a powerful statement, but would it achieve more than six weeks more of high-profile games and the eyeballs that come with them? Several players have expressed a need to do something tangible, to push issues forward. Will the attention gained from a two-day work stoppage achieve that?
Stephanie Ready: Sources told me NO games on Thursday, players meetings will continue.
Sam Amick: I would be very surprised if there’s games tomorrow. Sources also say that Udonis Haslem’s speech was powerful in today’s player meeting, offering perspective on how they shouldn’t take this Bubble opportunity for granted in terms of maximizing the platform.
Players demanded an action plan from ownership, sources told Sports Illustrated. Though to several in the room it was unclear exactly what action they wanted. Team owners have been supportive of players during this restart. They have allowed social justice messages on jerseys. They have supported kneeling during the national anthem. Earlier this month, the NBA announced it was committing $300 million to create economic empowerment in the black community. When the Bucks elected not to play, Milwaukee’s owners were the first to issue a strong statement of support.
An hour into the meeting, coaches were asked to leave so the players could hash things out. There was some frustration expressed at the Bucks for unilaterally initiating this walkout. Several players in the Thunder-Rockets game, scheduled to tip at 6:30, were warming up in the arena next door. At the end of the meeting, the Lakers and Clippers, two Western Conference powers, voted to stop playing. It’s unclear, however, if the teams were expressing that position as a starting point or if they were prepared to pack up and go home.
Vincent Goodwill: Sources to @YahooSports: There was frustration with Milwaukee players for doing this without talking to others. LeBron James initially stated he would go with the consensus, then got angry and stormed out.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: As some in tonight's meeting wanted to hear Bucks' explanation for making an abrupt decision independent of rest of teams to boycott game, Boston's Jaylen Brown essentially said that the Bucks didn't need to explain themselves and he fully supported what they did today.
Marc J. Spears: The NBA players opened the meeting on Wednesday night watching a Zoom call with Jacob Blake's family members, sources said. The call was eventually abandoned with muted family members looking at the players due to audio issues.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers were against finishing the NBA restart, two people familiar with Wednesday night’s players meeting told USA TODAY Sports. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive nature of the situation. NBA players and coaches met for more than two hours to discuss next steps after the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to take the floor for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, leading to the postponement of the rest of Wednesday's playoff games.
Sam Amick: Sources also say that Kyle Korver apologized for the way the Bucks made the decision not to play without alerting other teams. This element has clearly frustrated teams around the league, and Korver made the choice to address it.
When Milwaukee Bucks players were able to speak to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Wednesday, they had one main goal. "They just wanted to know what they could do," Barnes told ESPN. "They were very interested in a call to action. They wanted something tangible that they could do in the short and long term. They wanted the walkout [from Wednesday's game against the Orlando Magic] to be Step 1." Barnes told them that the most important thing they could press for is "for action at every level of government."
Vincent Goodwill: Source to @yahoosports: “This is Lord of the Flies now- 2020 edition” A lot of tension between players, It’s been building from inside the bubble
TheBillRussell: I’m moved by all the @NBA players for standing up for what is right. To my man @TheJetOnTNT I would like to say Thank you for what you did to show your support for the players. I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble. @NBAonTNT @ESPNNBA @espn #NBAPlayoffs ✊🏿
Dave McMenamin: A league source in the bubble tells ESPN there was “no sense of accomplishment” now that tonight’s meeting has been adjourned. Added that the feeling of “uncertainty” will remain until tomorrow’s emergency 11 a.m. ET Board of Governors meeting occurs.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Among themes in meeting: NBPA explained financial implications of ending season, including possible lockout next year. Chris Paul on leaving meeting unified; CJ McCollum on needing a plan of action. Doc Rivers on using platform, voting, holding police accountable.
Senator Jeff Markley: I stand with the @trailblazers to say that #BlackLivesMatter. Bravo to our Blazers who are using the power of their platform to fight for justice.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Clippers and Lakers voting on perhaps not continuing with the season was considered more of a polling, than a final vote, sources tell ESPN. The resumption of the playoffs remains still up in the air.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Discussions on continuing season will extend into tomorrow, sources tell ESPN, but appears unlikely the three playoff games on Thursday will be played. "Everyone is still too emotional," one high-ranking source tells ESPN. "There needs to be more time to come together on this."
Shams Charania: Sources: There was some frustration in meeting toward Bucks blindsiding on walk-out plan. Bucks’ George Hill admitted he first sparked conversation pregame to boycott contest, teammates supported.
September 23, 2021 | 4:49 am EDT Update
The Sixers would be best served if Simmons and Paul rethink their plans, though Simmons “is clearly aware of sanctions available to the organization to fine and suspend him, including withholding of salary,” according to Wojnarowski. An NBA source said Wednesday that Simmons initially asked for a trade at the draft combine in Chicago “right after” the end of the 2020-21 season. The Game 7 home loss to the Hawks occurred on June 20, with the combine running from June 21-27.
Simmons has apparently already received $8.25 million of his 2021-22 salary, with another $8.25 million due if he’s on the roster Oct. 1. The Sixers aren’t saying what they plan to do or if they must make that payment when, barring a dramatic shift, Simmons follows through with his holdout, according to the source.
Rather than increasing Simmons’ value in a trade, the Sixers’ preference is for Simmons to report and play this season in Philadelphia, according to an NBA source. Rivers said the same thing Wednesday: “We would love to have Ben back.”
Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson: 76ers retiring Kobe Bryant’s Lower Merion No. 33 like Heat retired MJ’s No. 23 ‘interesting idea’ @ScottONeil tells @BallySports: “That’s something that @dmorey & @DocRivers & Elton will weigh on for sure. That’s something that Chris Heck the President of 76ers will weigh on.”
September 23, 2021 | 2:02 am EDT Update
The Warriors recently connected Wiggins with an Oakland doctor who understands issues surrounding vaccine hesitancy, sources said. The doctor explained the suffering and deaths she has witnessed in patients who contracted the coronavirus, sources said, but Wiggins remains unmoved in his decision against vaccination.
San Francisco requires full vaccination to be allowed indoors for entertainment, including large events like NBA games at 18,000-seat Chase Center. New York City is the only other NBA market currently facing such restrictions. League sources believe the NBA will grant Wiggins a religious exemption, but San Francisco has the power to override it inside the city.