The NBA’s hiatus is set to end in the midst of social unrest tied to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and a global pandemic. Concerns over those issues triggered a 80-player phone conference earlier this week. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Kyrie Irving headlined a call that featured a handful of current and former Trail Blazers players.
CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, Zach Collins and former Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu all participated on the call. Irving led the way by raising concerns over the messaging that players would send by resuming the season in Orlando later this summer.
“I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving told the players. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”
Charania’s report explained that Melo’s contribution to the call focused on forming a unified message and giving younger players a voice in the process.
Anthony stressed unity, having a sole message and allowing the young players in the NBA a voice. At one point, Anthony suggested having all 80 players on the call donating $25,000 to a cause that they wanted.
McCollum’s message detailed the looming financial impact for players and the league if play does not resume. He also explained that players should be prepared for the cumbersome negotiations the NBPA is poised to face.
McCollum stated that players must be prepared for the financial dip if they choose not to play, and owners completely ripping apart the collective bargaining agreement.
You can read Charania’s full summary of the call at The Athletic (subscription required).