Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley reportedly helped form a player coalition to raise concerns about restarting the NBA season in Orlando, Florida, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and with the national conversation focused on addressing systemic racism and police brutality.
Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews of ESPN reported the news, noting Irving and Bradley both feel they are helping provide a voice for players who are reluctant to publicly speak out.
The coalition issued a statement to ESPN:
"We are a group of men and women from different teams and industries that are normally painted as opponents, but have put our egos and differences aside to make sure we stand united and demand honesty during this uncertain time.
"Native indigenous African Caribbean men and women entertaining the world, we will continue to use our voices and platforms for positive change and truth.
"We are truly at an inflection point in history where as a collective community, we can band together—UNIFY—and move as one. We need all our people with us and we will stand together in solidarity.
"As an oppressed community we are going on 500-plus years of being systemically targeted, used for our IP/Talent, and also still being killed by the very people that are supposed to 'protect and serve' us.
"WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
"We are combating the issues that matter most: We will not accept the racial injustices that continue to be ignored in our communities. We will not be kept in the dark when it comes to our health and well-being. And we will not ignore the financial motivations/expectations that have prevented us historically from making sound decisions.
"This is not about individual players, athletes or entertainers. This is about our group of strong men and women uniting for change. We have our respective fields, however, we will not just shut up and play to distract us from what this whole system has been about: Use and Abuse.
"We are all fathers, daughters leaders and so much more. So what is our BIG picture? We are in this for UNITY and CHANGE!"
In addition to a desire for the league to commit more resources to social justice reform, the coalition said it is concerned with surging COVID-19 numbers in Florida, restrictive conditions inside the bubble environment that could prevent players from being with their families for extended time, increased injuries, and insurance and liability for any player who becomes sick.
According to the report, Irving and Bradley helped organize a player call on Monday that featured 1968 U.S. bronze medalist John Carlos, who offered his perspective on social justice.
Irving and Bradley also helped organize a players call Friday that raised similar concerns.
At least one major voice is reportedly in favor of still playing, as The Athletic's Sam Amick reported LeBron James "believes playing in Orlando won't deter his ability to continue inspiring change."
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley suggested that may be the only voice that matters:
This comes after Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the league's player union representatives approved the 22-team format by a 28-0 vote. The plan is for each team to play eight regular-season games before a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff seed in each conference.
From there, the traditional 16-team playoffs with best-of-seven series would determine a champion.