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According to Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, “Irving never stated that the Nets should begin their own league in response to the bubble” and left the group chat following reports that suggested as much.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported Irving “lobbied” his teammates to skip on the NBA‘s 22-team restart format in Orlando, Florida, in the chat and also said players can start their own league separate from the NBA.
Bondy explained: “To be clear on this, Kyrie Irving has proposed to his teammates they should start their own league, and it’s not necessarily in response to the bubble situation.”
Following Bondy’s initial report, Nets forward Theo Pinson called the idea of Irving pushing for players to create their own league “FAKE news.”
Irving has been one of the leading voices among NBA players raising concerns about restarting the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with the national focus on systemic racism and police brutality.
There are some worries starting the season again would serve as a distraction and take away from the message of worldwide protests that the May 25 killing of George Floyd sparked.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN reported Irving and Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley helped create a coalition of players to address a number of concerns, including health-related fears that come with playing during the pandemic and worries that playing again will distract from the national conversation on racism.
The coalition held calls on Friday and Monday and was reportedly created as a way of giving those who did not want to speak publicly a voice with the league headed toward a potential restart on July 30.
The NBA released a statement to address some of those concerns that said, in part, “a central goal of our season restart will be to utilize the NBA’s platform to bring attention and sustained action to issues of social injustice,” per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
As for the potential health issues, Wojnarowski reported the league released a lengthy health and safety protocol that explained “The occurrence of a small or otherwise expected number of COVID-19 cases will not require a decision to suspend or cancel the resumption of the 2019-20 season.”