The NBA’s Turn In The Barrel…

As illustrated yesterday, whatever will try to pass itself off as the 2020 MLB season will be a cheap imitation at best and more likely a fraud.  There is no need to vent any more spleen over that outrageous situation until something more concrete happens to rekindle my revulsion.  But wait, there’s more…

Up until about 48 hours ago, it seemed as if the NBA had found a way to patch together a means to finish their “season-interruptus” from back in mid-March.  I thought the idea of inviting 22 of the 30 teams to participate in the finishing games of the season was a bit strange but I did like the idea of putting all the teams – players and coaches – in a bubble somewhere and testing them for the coronavirus every other day.  Those decisions were made carefully and with input from the NBPA.  It surely seemed as if there was a logical and potentially feasible path forward to finish a regular season and start the belated playoffs.

Out of the blue, Murphy’s Law demanded jurisdiction.  How dare the NBA assume that it had everything under control – – everything, that is, that can humanly be controllable.  Over the weekend, there was a conference call involving a reported 80 NBA players.  According to reports, there was a large sentiment expressed there that a return to work by NBA players – who are predominantly Black – would detract from the attention being given to social reforms that need attention in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.

Kyrie Irving is the most vocal of the star players who do not want to report to the bubble in Orlando to finish out the season and Kyrie Irving has a platform from which to assert his position because he is the vice-president of the NBPA.  While I may not agree that the act of NBA players reporting to play games in Orlando would detract from the efforts to effect social reform, I think I can understand how Irving might come to that conclusion.  However, I think Irving’s logic went off the rails when he reportedly told the conference call this:

“There’s only 20 guys actually getting paid, and I’m part of that.  Let’s not pretend there’s not a tiered system purposely to divide all of us.”

“…a tiered system purposely to divide all of us”?  Really?  The NBA and its owners have created in a calculated way (”purposely”) a pay scale in the league that hinders players from standing for and pushing for social reform?  I am going to need a lot of tutoring and a lot of real evidence – not just arm-waving rhetoric – to get to that place on the scale of understanding.  It is not that I think the NBA owners are too good and too noble to do anything like that; it’s that I don’t think they could pull it off even after they thought up the system and agreed to implement it.

  • [Aside:  The messenger here is also not a perfect representative.  Kyrie Irving has voiced some “controversial” beliefs such as the time he said he believed the Earth is flat.]

Here is a link to a report at that will give you a transcription of the remarks from about a half-dozen players who were involved in that conference call.  There are clearly differences of opinion there regarding the righteousness of reporting to Orlando.

Frankly, I think that the NBA players should be equally focused on a different aspect of reporting to the bubble in Orlando.  Back when Florida “reopened” from its stay-at-home status, the number of new COVID-19 cases per day in Florida fluctuated around 750 per day.  That is not great – – but Florida is a big state so one can convince oneself that the contagion might be difficult to encounter.  Here are some latter data for the number of new cases for the State of Florida since reopening:

  • June 12 – – 1,902
  • June 13 – – 2,581
  • June 14 – – 2,016
  • June 15 – – 1,758

I am not channeling Chicken Little here; the sky is not falling.  At the same time, it is fair and logical to say that the numbers of new cases in Florida while it was “shut down” were a lot more attractive than the numbers are today.  I understand that NBA players are young and as a general rule to not have any of the underlying conditions that are dangerous when the coronavirus attacks; but by the same token, they are young men with families to take into consideration as they make their decision(s).

My guess is that most of them will report to Orlando and play.  But there will be twists and turns along the way before all their bags are packed…

Meanwhile, the NFL and the NFLPA are reportedly discussing possible changes to the Exhibition Season with the idea of making it shorter in 2020.  The foundation of this idea is that some players may not be ready even for Exhibition Games this year due to the lack of structured conditioning programs and classroom preparations this off-season.  This situation has the potential to invoke the adage:

  • “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”

Imagine if it took a pandemic to make a permanent change to the NFL schedule that reduced the number of meaningless Exhibition Games from 4 to 2.  That would mean the pandemic was not an ill wind.  Ruminate on that!

Finally, here is a Tweet from Brad Dickson, formerly with the Omaha World-Herald:

“A driver is retiring because NASCAR is banning Confederate flags. I only hope this news doesn’t harm the image of NASCAR as a sport of sophisticated, worldly, intellectual free thinkers.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………