As Woj reported, 40 to 50 players participated in a conference call and shared reservations about coming to Orlando to play out the rest of the NBA season. Some due to health concerns, some because they realized how strict the regime would be in the bubble, but a large number of players feel they should dedicate all their attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Matt Barnes has experience in making such a decision. He was a part of the Clippers when Donald Sterling‘s racist tape was released. The Clippers were up 2-1 against the Warriors, facing the most important decision in their careers. Do they sit out the game? The locker room decided not to boycott and showed up on the court. Speaking about the news he broke, that some players aren’t sure if they should play, Barnes says he’d do things differently if he had the chance.
“In the moment, I didn’t understand the magnitude and the history of the situation. Obviously, now being removed from it, I have a completely different outlook on it. If it were to happen again, I would’ve urged the team that we need to sit out.”Matt Barnes, Get Up
Mark J. Spears talked about this moment on The Jump and said he had heard Barnes and DeAndre Jordan were main proponents of the idea the team should not play the game against the Warriors. So obviously Barnes didn’t change his position, but the passion and resolve to fight for equality. He ended his answer with a message for today’s players.
“Hindsight being 20/20, fast forward six years later, this can be a tremendous statement for the players.”Matt Barnes, Get Up
While understanding the point Barnes made, Jay Williams made a different argument. The biggest impact athletes can have is making a statement while they are playing. An image of all players taking a knee would be more powerful than some players not playing in Orlando. In addition to that, economic empowerment is necessary for the sustainability of change. Barnes said he agrees and hopes the players do play.
Getting all them checks provides independence for African-American athletes who have been some of the loudest role models and spokespeople in this movement. Going to Orlando, playing kick-ass NBA basketball, and using all the attention they will get to send a strong, positive message is the best thing players can do.
There’s more than one way to make a statement. I support the one that strengthens the rare multi-billion dollar business that has so many African-American men at the top.