John Wall echoes Kyrie Irving’s concerns over NBA restart
Kyrie Irving recently sounded the alarms over the NBA’s return-to-play plans during a conference call in which 80-plus NBA players were believed to have taken part, and the concerns expressed by the Brooklyn Nets star resonated with Washington Wizards star John Wall.
Wall won’t participate in a league restart in Orlando, Fla. tentatively scheduled to begin on July 30 due to his ongoing recovery after undergoing surgery in February on a ruptured left Achilles. He nevertheless claims he wouldn’t have taken part in the resumption had he been healthy.
“For me, if I was playing, I wouldn’t want to go to it, to be honest. I just don’t feel like it’s safe,” Wall said on “The Tuff Juice Podcast” with Caron Butler, via NBC Sports Washington. “I just don’t feel like it is. I understand why they want to do it and what they’re trying to get to, but I wouldn’t want to,” Wall said.
During the call, Irving — one the current NBPA vice presidents — expressed unease over the league’s return to action amid amid the social unrest and burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement inspired by the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody.
The optics of black athletes descending on the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World amid ongoing protests and outrage against systemic racism and social injustices concerned Irving.
“I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving said on the call, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. “… Something smells a little fishy.”
The coalition of players harboring reservations over returning to play later issued a mission statement that was subsequently shared with the media.
One prominent outspoken voice from the NBA’s head coaching community believes the league’s longtime support of player initiatives concerning such issues will help the involved parties bridge the gap and reach to a satisfactory resolution.
It remains to be seen, however, whether the collaborative environment the NBA has sought to foster with players over the years will be enough amid a time of such social upheaval, not to mention unprecedented circumstances brought upon by the coronavirus pandemic.