Doc Rivers: Not NBA's Job to Change the World, but It Must Be a Part of It

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers reacts during the second quarter of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said Friday it's important for the NBA, coaches and players to use their influence to create change while noting it's not their responsibility to do so:

Protests against police brutality and systemic racism sparked by George Floyd's death while in Minneapolis Police custody in late May have surged again after Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back by police Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rivers previously made emotional comments about Blake, systemic racism and the current political situation in the United States:

On Thursday, the 58-year-old Chicago native also helped shed light on the emotional toll of an extended period inside the league's bubble—where several meetings were held to determine whether to move forward with the 2020 NBA playoffs—at the Disney World complex in Orlando, Florida:

"It woke me up quite a bit to some of the things that I have missed since being in this bubble. You forget that being in the bubble is hard. And even some of that came up. I knew it was hard but listening to some of these guys speak, just mental awareness, we got to be a little sharper on that as well. ...

"I don't think it's coincidence that everyone in this bubble just seems to be a little bit more emotional and I'm not kidding. It's true. I think part of the effect of being like jammed together every day, it has had that effect on everyone."

The NBA opted for the bubble concept as a way to finish the campaign safely amid the coronavirus pandemic, which caused a four-month hiatus beginning in mid-March.

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Although that plan has been executed well, with COVID-19 virtually nonexistent on the NBA's Orlando campus, players are separated from family members and removed from the communities where they frequently participated in protests.

In June, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported multiple players, including the Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, raised concerns that the movement for social justice would lose momentum as the focus shifted back toward sports.

"Once we start playing basketball again, the news will turn from systemic racism to who did what in the game last night," an unnamed player told ESPN. "It's a crucial time for us to be able to play and blend that and impact what's happening in our communities."

After this week's protests resulted in the postponement in playoff games, players decided to resume the postseason. Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes detailed a 48-hour whirlwind that hinged heavily on the Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James, the longtime face of the NBA, who was prepared to walk away if the owners didn't commit to further help for Black communities.

After three days of postponements, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced Friday that play will resume Saturday after a leaguewide practice day for all 13 teams still involved in the playoffs.