David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Milwaukee Bucks forward Kyle Korver told former NBA player and ESPN analyst Richard Jefferson that he would support his black teammates and NBA peers if they decided the best way to enact social change was to not finish the 2020 season.
“If we think that is the best way for change, I care more about change happening than a championship. On the other side, I am on a team that feels like we could win. And I have never won. I would like to win. So is there a way to do both? I think there’s a conversation there. But again, I’m going to follow the lead of my black brothers and teammates on this.”
There is a faction of players in the NBA, led by Kyrie Irving and Avery Bradley, who have questioned whether playing in Orlando would be healthy given concerns over the coronavirus and whether the resumption of basketball would distract from the needed social changes being highlighted by protests and marches around the nation.
That coalition released a statement, via Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN. It read in part:
“We are combating the issues that matter most: We will not accept the racial injustices that continue to be ignored in our communities. We will not be kept in the dark when it comes to our health and well-being. And we will not ignore the financial motivations/expectations that have prevented us historically from making sound decisions.
“This is not about individual players, athletes or entertainers. This is about our group of strong men and women uniting for change. We have our respective fields, however, we will not just shut up and play to distract us from what this whole system has been about: Use and Abuse.”
Other players have expressed the belief that the players could use the money they would earn and the platform they have to best combat those issues:
There is also the matter of what actions the NBA itself will take. Korver said he believes the NBA is the best professional league in all of sports but wants to see what the league will do in the fight against systemic racism.
“I want change to happen. And I want to play a role in that however I can,” he said. “I think there’s an opportunity in Orlando to be like, ‘How can we highlight change?’ The NFL’s come out with a $250 million [over 10 years to fight systemic racism] kind of their pledge how they’ll be about change. What’s the NBA going to do?”
It remains up in the air if the 2020 season will resume. But for Korver, being a positive force for change is the top priority.