At a reportedly contentious meeting Wednesday night among players, coaches and league officials at the NBA bubble in Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers voted to end the season in what ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski called “more of a polling, than a final vote.”
This heated, all-hands-on-deck meeting came hours after the Milwaukee Bucks, reportedly spearheaded by veteran guard George Hill, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, boycotted and went on strike instead of playing Game 5 of their first round playoff series against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The NBA ended up postponing all three postseason games on Wednesday, with no set plan on when playoff games will resume.
This sets the stage for an important special NBA Board of Governors meeting on Thursday morning that’s currently rife with uncertainty. LeBron James said that he wanted team owners to take more action in terms of social justice, Charania said, and to hold them more accountable. Players reportedly discussed voting and police reform and how the players can take more action and a leadership role themselves.
After players and teams took the historic and unprecedented step to go on strike and cause the postponement of playoff games in their fight for social justice, the NBA players union explained the potential implications of ending the 2019-2020 season now without a champion. That included possible financial implications and the possibility of a lockout to begin next season, though that’s possible anyway given the expected enormous loss in revenue this season and how that will impact 2020-2021.
“The players’ meeting ended ‘ugly,’ per a source,” said The Athletic’s David Aldridge, “with uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow.”
It doesn’t appear that the Clippers’ or Lakers’ votes, led by James, or perhaps the opinions of other playoff teams on the status of the season, is binding just yet.
But the union is expected to be present at Thursday’s Board of Governors meeting. And just the threat of the season ending without any more games being played definitely gives the players more leverage in getting some actionable measures and pledged from league ownership.
But for the first time, the threat of boycotting games and not playing is actually a real threat. It was acted on. And now if there isn’t enough promised change, the entire season could possibly come to an end.