NBPA’s Michele Roberts reacts to LeBron James’ criticism of compressed offseason
LeBron James made waves last month with scathing criticism of the NBA over the compressed offseason ahead of the 2020-21 campaign following the league’s conclusion of the previous season in the Orlando bubble.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts doesn’t necessarily agree with James’ harsh assessment of how the NBA handled the season in light of the logistical and other challenges presented by the pandemic.
In remarks made this week to Yahoo, Roberts rejected the “notion that it was something that was not decided by the players and the players had no input,” arguing the union itself as well as the NBA were not solely responsible for the shortened offseason and the decision to start the season in December.
“I don’t run this union. I know that people think I do,” Roberts said. “But the players know better. They run this union. That was the reason my predecessor [Billy Hunter] got fired, because on some level, they thought that he was he was unilaterally making decisions that affected them.”
Roberts went on to add that the union meetings — all held virtually– during which the logistics of the 2020-21 season were deliberated led to some “incredibly interesting” debates, some of which were “heated.”
The Los Angeles Lakers star spawned the most recent criticism surrounding the shortened offseason in a series of tweets last month in which he argued that the primary factor in so many players succumbed to injury during the postseason — including Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joel Embiid, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Jamal Murray, Jaylen Brown and Mike Conley, among others — was the historically compacted offseason between the conclusion of play in the NBA bubble and the tip-off of the 2020-21 campaign.
The Lakers, for instance, concluded the 2019-20 season when the team secured the title with a Game 6 win over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals on Oct. 11. That meant the team had only 71 days of offseason recovery/preparation time before ramping things up for another grueling regular season.
All that being said, it merits noting that the NBA also pushed back against James’ criticism last month. Now with Roberts following suit — to some degree — it appears the league’s two organizational bodies don’t find James’ case all that compelling and agree that the players bear some burden for how things played out.