Report: Kyrie Irving petitioning NBA players to not resume season amid pandemic, racial tensions

Earlier this month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that the Brooklyn Nets would be without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant when the Association restarts the 2019-20 season with a 22-team format at Orlando’s Walt Disney World Resort.

Irving may still be recovering from shoulder surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s completely absent.

On Thursday, Wojnarowski reported that the NBA had informed National Basketball Players Association members that over half of the 22 teams staying at the Orlando bubble site will be eliminated within 53 days of their arrival in an attempt to ease worries about staying in a largely-quarantined setting.

However, Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, Howard Beck and also Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports have since reported that some players feel they weren’t properly represented regarding a vote over the 22-team model and temporarily relocating to Florida, away from their families, during a coronavirus outbreak and racial tensions throughout the world.

Multiple NBA players and other athletes have taken part in protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who died while in Minneapolis police custody on May 25 after a white officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

Protests have continued through mid-June.

Rooks and Beck reported that between 150 and 200 NBA players are set to hold a conference call on Friday to discuss the next and best course of action. Haynes added that Irving organized the call and has, apparently, experienced a change of heart: Irving is of the position that players should consider not playing in light of the uproar over racial injustice and the unknowns of COVID-19, sources said.

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Irving’s stance is meaningful because he’s on the executive committee that voted for the season’s resumption.

Sources said several players have been reluctant to express their views in fear of opposing the superstars who are adamant about playing if proper safety measures are in place.

Earier this week, Wojnarowski reported that the NBA won’t punish players, outside of salary reductions, for refusing to rejoin teams in July. It’s thought some members of clubs that have no real chance of competing with teams at or near the top of the standings in a playoff tournament may wait to return to their employers until training camps for the 2020-21 season.

—Zac Wassink

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