LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — NBA players want change that makes their communities safer. They want people to vote — hopefully in their home arenas.
And they want to keep playing basketball.
Teams returned to the court Friday after the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on commitments that made players comfortable continuing.
Oklahoma City point guard Chris Paul, the union president, detailed the events of the previous two days, when players upset by the latest police shooting of a Black man left them considering leaving the Disney campus and going home.
“We’re all hurt, we’re all tired of just seeing the same thing over and over again and everybody just expects us to be OK just because we get paid great money,” Paul said. “We’re human, we have real feelings and I’m glad that we got a chance to get in a room and talk with one another and not just cross paths and say good luck in your game today.”
All 13 teams remaining in the postseason scheduled practice Friday — the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, as Paul noted — though some declined to speak with reporters. Games are to resume Saturday with the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Orlando Magic in the rescheduled Game 5 of their series.
The other two games Saturday will be Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Houston Rockets followed by the Portland Trail Blazers against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Play stopped Wednesday when the Bucks didn’t take the court for their playoff game against Orlando, showing their frustration with the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and acts of racial injustice.
Guard Danny Green said Lakers players were resting ahead of their scheduled night game when they got the word about the Bucks. He said there were some heated moments when players met that night, given their surprise at the Bucks’ actions, but he didn’t think they would get to the point of deciding not to play.
“I mean, we all know that that would make a statement,” he said. “We obviously are here. So we’re all here, we all want to play. We know we have a chance to do something special too, but we know there are things more important than that, than winning a championship.
“We’re going to be Black men forever. That’s not going to ever change. So if it comes down to winning a championship or doing something better for our people, for our communities, we’re going to pick that first.”
Games were postponedfor two days, during which players met among themselves and with coaches and owners before an agreement to resume was reached.