Division in the NBA protest ranks? LeBron James ‘adamant’ about canceling playoffs following ‘tense’ boycott meeting
The NBA playoffs are hanging by a thread following a meeting of players, coaches and referees on Wednesday following the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to boycott the playoff game with the Orlando Magic.
The remaining teams in the NBA ‘bubble’ in Florida held talks after the Bucks’ announced that they were to withdraw from their fixture against the Magic in protest against the shooting of African-American man Jacob Blake by police in Wisconsin. The decision was backed by the other teams in the playoffs, who swiftly followed suit.
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However, in the meeting which has since been described as ‘tense’ by NBA insiders, players from LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers voted to end the season early. Shortly after, James abruptly left the meeting – and was followed by his Lakers teammates, as well as those from the Clippers.
Per reports from US media, it was argued that sitting out just one game isn’t seen as a robust enough protest, with James understood to want to see decisive action from team owners with regard to social justice issues – which, if not agreed, could lead further calls for the season to be called off prematurely.
Sources: Lakers forward LeBron James and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard both spoke up in the players meeting Wednesday night and were adamant about not playing the rest of the playoffs and they wanted change. The players will have another meeting at 11 am East time Thursday.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) August 27, 2020
Another NBA player post-meeting: “There were a lot of emotions in the meeting rather than coming up with a solution, but I think tomorrow will be better. I’m confident we will play, but tomorrow is a big meeting.” https://t.co/wSIruUnnat
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) August 27, 2020
“LeBron James ultimately decided to depart from the meeting, according to my sources because he was incredibly frustrated,” ESPN‘s Stephen A. Smith reported. “His question was, ‘You guys elected to do this, you didn’t inform us that you were about to do this. It’s something that should have been done, now where do we go from here?’
“Essentially there was a plethora of players that felt blindsided by the decision that the Milwaukee Bucks made unilaterally. So now they were asking what is the plan moving forward, and did there not appear to be a clear and concise plan?
“So, as a result there was a vote that was taking place and essentially all of the teams voted to participate and continue playing these playoffs – with the exception of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Those are the two teams that from what I’m told that they were willing to cut the season short, plan and simple. They recognized the fact that no matter what, these playoffs don’t exist without the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. There’s not going to be a strong level of credibility that comes along with that.
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“There’s also people that are bantering back and forth in term of the position that LeBron James has taken. Remember, this ‘More Than a Vote’ movement that he has moving forward in the Louisville election that’s scheduled to take place on November 3rd – he can’t really take a different position in terms of not being supportive in taking a strong position in regards to missing games or what have you, because obviously he’s thinking about that. This is incredibly and extremely important to him.”
A further meeting is expected to come on Thursday, at which point more clarity as to the remainder of the NBA season is expected.