Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving led a call with over 80 NBA and WNBA players Friday during which they discussed the NBA's planned restart at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex just outside of Orlando, Florida.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard talked about potentially sitting out a restart, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium:
"Sources: Kyrie Irving led a call of 80-plus NBA players, including Chris Paul/Kevin Durant/Carmelo Anthony/Donovan Mitchell, and Irving and several players spoke up about not supporting resumed season due to nationwide unrest from social injustice/racism.
"Donovan Mitchell, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard among others spoke out about possibly sitting out due to social/COVID-19 issues, per sources. NBPA leadership, Paul/Garrett Temple, provided insight too. Every player had a voice—wants to find purpose, whether they play or not."
Mitchell responded to the report on Twitter:
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports added: "... Opinions were voiced, questions answered and a common theme established: Whatever we do, we're in this together."
"I don't support going into Orlando," Irving said, per Charania. "I'm not with the systematic racism and the bulls--t. Something smells a little fishy."
"I'm willing to give up everything I have [for social reform]," he added.
The league suspended play in March after Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Mitchell tested positive for the virus the next day. The NBA is scheduled to resume the 2019-20 season July 30 after the National Basketball Players Association approved the 22-team restart plan last Friday.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder told ESPN's First Take (via Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune) on Wednesday that Gobert and Mitchell are "as excited as anybody on our team or anybody in the league" to play.
However, Charania reported that Mitchell "expressed concerns about playing due to 'being behind the eightball' having not played five-on-five and being thrust into a competitive environment and eight-game regular season."
"We're taking a big [injury] risk," Mitchell reportedly said.
Bleacher Report's Taylor Rooks added context:
Anthony recently discussed the restart with Turner Sports' Ernie Johnson: "As far as actually playing ... I'm still up in the air a little bit because we don't have all the details. We don't know a lot of information, so until we have that, it's kind of hard to just commit to it 100 percent."
On Friday, Anthony said that players needed to have a unified message, per Charania. He also wanted younger NBA players to have a voice and suggested everyone on the call donate $25,000 to their preferred cause.
Howard believed that playing out the season would be a "distraction" to the movement for social justice and that now is the time to be catalysts for change, per Charania.
On June 5, a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski indicated that Irving planned to go to Florida and support his teammates despite his season-ending shoulder surgery March 3.
Irving told players on the 100-minute call that he was against the league going to Orlando, per Haynes, but would support whatever decision the group made. Haynes added that the WNBA players on the call expressed they would "stand in unity" with NBA players.