LeBron James is committing to seeing the 2019-20 season out and leading his Los Angeles Lakers to Orlando for the NBA’s return to play.
James is reportedly part of the group of high-profile players who want to resume the season, rather than end it to focus on racial oppression and systemic racism as Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving prefers.
Report: James wants to play and pursue reform
James was not on the call held by Irving on Friday night to discuss the pros and cons of returning to play, per Sam Amick of The Athletic. But he is in the camp of playing the season in Orlando as planned while at the same time continuing his work for social justice reform.
Because sources say James, whose Lakers have as good a chance at the title as any of the 22 teams invited to Walt Disney World, believes playing in Orlando won’t deter his ability to continue inspiring change.
He wants to keep making his mark off the court. He wants to play basketball. And as has always been the case, he clearly believes he can do both at the same time.
James, 35, has never been one to “shut up and dribble” and has spent years working for social justice causes. He and his family foundation opened the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, to help give inner city children a strong foundation in and out of school. His SpringHill Entertainment production company has made films and TV shows focused on Black leads and their history. And this week he, along with fellow athletes and celebrities, created a new organization, More Than a Vote, meant to increase African-American registration and turnout while educating voters on their rights and protections.
Most of these accomplishments have come while he was winning on the court.
Irving hosts call on concerns about Orlando
Irving hosted a call of about 80 NBA players and a handful of WNBA players discussing the pros and cons of returning to play games while the nation reckons with its history of systemic racism.
The NBA hopes to resume the season at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando in late July. The WNBA proposed to players a 22-game season at IMG Academy in Florida that would begin July 24. News of a deal could come Monday.
Irving reportedly believes a predominantly black league quarantining for a three-month season to entertain the nation is bad optics, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. Other players reportedly voiced their desire not to play and Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon told The JJ Redick podcast he’s talked to some players who are “super interested in sitting out.”
Playing and protesting
To James’ lifelong point, there is a way to play the rest of the season and continue fighting for racial equality after the death of George Floyd last month. Players have spent the last few weeks joining protests, speaking out on social media and donating to causes.
Sources told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that high-profile players are planning on using the return to games as a larger platform to promote the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s unclear what those plans might be, but after months away from any sports at all the NBA telecasts would have a large viewership.
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