Despite all of the headaches and issues with logistics, the 2019-20 NBA season is set to return July 30 at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The backdrop here being a raging COVID-19 pandemic and racial tensions boiling over in the United States.
In talking about this, New Orleans Pelicans star JJ Redick was as candid as possible.
Pelicans star: It would be a lie to say players are comfortable with NBA season resuming
“We started seeing that momentum that we were gonna maybe play. It seemed like we had bent the (COVID-19) curve a little bit,” Reddick told reporter on Friday, via ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “And then all of a sudden, George Floyd gets murdered, Breonna Taylor’s murdered, the tape of Ahmaud Arbery comes out.”
There’s certainly a lot of different things on the minds of NBA players as the season resumes following a four-plus month hiatus. Initially, it was all about the global pandemic that forced the season to be suspended back on March 11.
Since then, star NBA players have questioned restarting the season following the murder of George Floyd by a then-Minneapolis police officer on May 25. Other examples of racial injustice and police brutality have also come to the forefront, leading to protests on a scale we have not seen in decades.
Most recently, a dramatic increase of COVID-19 cases in the United States has raised questions about whether it makes sense to continue the NBA season.
“So, now we’re dealing with this. And we’re still trying to figure out the logistics of playing. And then this second wave has hit, for COVID. So, to say that we have any sort of comfort level would be a lie. There is no comfort level,” Redick continued. “We’re not with our families, we’re not at our homes, we’re isolated in a bubble in the middle of a hot spot in the middle of Florida, while there’s social unrest going on in the country and we’re three months away from potentially the most important election in our lifetimes.”
There’s a lot of truth to what Redick is saying here.
25 NBA players tested positive for COVID-19
The NBA announced last week that 16 players had contracted the virus. The Association added another nine players to that growing list earlier this week.
The concern around the Association is that a further outbreak of COVID-19 could halt the season in its tracks. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has suggested as much.
NBA players could protest national anthem
The other obvious backdrop here includes a strong likelihood that players will protest police brutality and racial inequality during the national anthem. The NBA will enable players to support the Black Lives Matter movement with terms on the back of their jerseys in Orlando.
Redick’s concerns do not represent an overreaction. More so than any other sport, stars within the Association are politically active.
With the 2020 Presidential Election coming up and amid growing racial tensions, they are only human to have other things on their mind. A virus that has now killed at least 131,000 Americans adds another sobering layer to this.