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When asked about it by Mark Medina of USA Today, Green said he couldn’t get on the call and suggested there was confusion about when it was supposed to happen: “No. I tried to get on the call. I couldn’t get in. I didn’t know there was one [Friday]. I thought it was [Saturday]. So I don’t know about a call [Friday]. If there was one [Friday], I was invited to one and couldn’t get on. But somebody told me it was [Saturday]. There was a call today?”
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Irving spoke on an NBPA call that included nearly 100 players Friday and made an “impassioned plea” for players to sit out the remainder of the season in order to shift the focus to social issues following the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
On June 5, NBPA reps voted to approve the NBA‘s return-to-play plan, which would see 22 teams play eight games apiece in Orlando, Florida, beginning on July 30, with the top eight teams in both conferences then competing in the playoffs into October.
Per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, one thing of note Irving said on Friday’s call was: “I’m willing to give up everything I have [for social reform].”
Charania also reported that Irving said: “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls–t. Something smells a little fishy.”
Floyd’s killing has served as a catalyst for widespread protests against racial inequality, police brutality and social injustice in the United States and across the world.
Officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed against the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and facedown on the ground. Floyd said he couldn’t breathe on several occasions, but Chauvin didn’t move his knee.
Chauvin was fired, arrested and charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers on the scene—Thomas Lane, J.A. Keung and Tou Thao—were charged with aiding and abetting.
Green said there are still some question marks regarding the resumption of the season, primarily related to when family members can join players in the Orlando “bubble” and how long they will have to be in quarantine when they arrive.
Even so, Green suggested that most players want to play out the remainder of the season largely because of the financial ramifications:
“I think most guys wanted the season to come back. I didn’t think guys were against the season coming back or wanting it to be canceled. We’re all for it and didn’t want to lose out on the season. They didn’t want to lose out on winning a championship. They didn’t want to lose out on maximizing their dollar. If we lost the season, we would’ve lost a good portion of our checks.”
Wojnarowski reported that “several” players suggested they would be willing to sit out the remainder of the season following Irving’s message.
The financial ramifications would be significant, though, as Wojnarowski noted that players would lose an additional 25 percent of their salaries with owners exercising the force majeure provision. In all, players would stand to forfeit $1.2 billion in salary this season.