The buzz around the league is that, among players, enthusiasm for spending at least a month in the Orlando bubble is mixed. In general, they like the idea of playing again, and they definitely want to get paid. However, the risk of illness combined with time away from family and concerns about the impact on the Black Lives Matters movement has some players hesitating.
Memphis’ Justise Winslow summed up the sense a lot of players have, speaking to Caron Butler on the NBA’s Twitter feed.
Winslow had previously said the return was all about the money (he’s right, it is). Here some of the key parts of what he said to Butler. (hat tip Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
“The bubble is tricky, man. From the COVID standpoint, I don’t think it’s a great idea just to have all these people in a bubble and tight spaces. It’s almost the opposite of social distancing. We’re going to have workers who are working for Disney; they’re going to be going home and seeing their family and doing whatever they want to do, but then they are going to come back…
“But at the same time, I’m a competitor. I want to play. I want my money even though it’s not all about the money. It’s still a business. So if these owners are going to get paid, I want my fair share as well. It keeps going back to just the dynamic of players want more money and owners want more money, so how can we do this without killing each other or knocking each other down or being disrespectful…
“I know the NBA is taking it seriously, but I don’t know if it’s worth it. Is it that serious? People have families, people have babies on the way. We got international players coming across the country and leaving their families and won’t be able to see their families until if they make the second round. It’s a lot still in the air.”
A lot of players are in this same headspace right now.
They are torn, although there is a sense the money part of the equation, along with the desire to compete, will win out and the vast majority of NBA players will head to Orlando. When looking at how other sports in the United States are handling a return, Adam Silver has the NBA pretty well organized.
But is it worth it?
That’s a question each player has to answer for himself. The answer is not going to be the same for everyone.