Shams: Hornets' Michael Jordan Advocated for Player Safety After NBA Hiatus

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2020

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 24: Michael Jordan attends a press conference before the NBA Paris Game match between Charlotte Hornets and Milwaukee Bucks on January 24, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)
Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan was among those expressing reservations about the circumstances under which the NBA will potentially resume the 2019-20 season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania, having all 30 teams travel to Orlando, Florida, to restart play was an idea that garnered some disapproval inside the league. Jordan was part of that group:

"[Jordan] was outspoken on Friday's call, advocating for player safety and not having players have to return for meaningless games following a four-plus month hiatus, sources said. The Hawks and Bulls ownership groups said on the call that they wanted to return, sources said, but several players and staffers throughout both organizations prefer not to."

With a resumption appearing to be all but certain, the NBA is stuck having to balance player health with a level of competitive fairness.

No team has played more than 67 games, so squads on the outside edge of the playoff picture might feel it is unfair to move straight ahead to a 16-team postseason. Of course, more teams mean more personnel the NBA and health officials will have to monitor to limit the spread of COVID-19.

And beyond the risk of contracting the disease, asking players to compete after such a long layoff could increase their susceptibility to basketball-related injuries.

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That was seemingly the point Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard was making when he told Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes he wasn't planning to suit up in a restarted season if the Blazers didn't have a clear opportunity to make the playoffs. Lillard said he would be willing to travel with his teammates and practice but that he'd draw the line at taking the floor for games.

While the NBA hasn't finalized any plans, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday "the league has been advancing on a plan that would include regular-season, play-in and playoff games for the 16 teams currently holding a playoff position and six more teams within six games of the eighth seed in each conference."

Wojnarowski followed up Wednesday and reported 22 teams would play eight regular-season games in Orlando to help determine the seeding for the playoffs.

According to Charania, the NBA would also hold a play-in tournament for the eighth seed in each conference if the ninth-seeded team is within four games of the final postseason spot.

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