NBA analysts disagree with stars on merits of playing amid racial justice protests

Charles Barkley.
(Image credit: Screenshot/ESPN)

The NBA is getting closer to a return at some point this summer, as the league looks to finish up a season that was halted by the coronavirus pandemic. But aside from the difficulties of playing during a public health crisis, some of the league's stars are also questioning the wisdom of restarting the season amid protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

The Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving, who had season-ending surgery in February, is reportedly one of the prominent players at least contemplating opposing the league's plan to have 22 teams travel to Orlando, Florida, for several months to complete the regular season and postseason in semi-quarantined style. Irving said he'd "give up everything" for social reform. Other veterans, including Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Clippers guard Lou Williams, agree, with Williams arguing the sport could be a "distraction" and pull people away from the protest movement.

However, some players noted it's easier for highly-paid veterans like Irving and Howard to advocate for sitting out, and ESPN analyst and former Duke University star Jay Williams and Hall-of-Fame player and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley agree Irving and others would be making a mistake since they could lose out on a platform to advocate for racial justice as well as money that could help drive change in their communities. If they sit out, "they're gonna be out of sight, out of mind for the rest of the year" Barkley said Monday on ESPN's Get Up. Tim O'Donnell

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.