Last week it was announced that the NBA set a tentative date of July 31 for the league to resume playing after being suspended in March because of COVID-19.
While some players may not want to return because of the potentially deadly virus, others may not play for reasons that have to do with George Floyd and the ongoing protests, if Matt Barnes’ comments in a recent interview are to be believed.
Barnes, a retired NBA player, was a guest on Yahoo! Sports’ “Dunk Bait” on Monday and said while some players in the league may want to dedicate this season to Floyd, others want to sit out because they feel the league returning would take away attention from the protests.
That position is something Barnes claims certain players have already told him, and he says other players have expressed the idea to Snoop Dogg.
Floyd was a 46-year-old Black man who passed away after a Minneapolis Police Department cop jammed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest on Memorial Day, an encounter that was caught on video and ignited protests across the United States and overseas.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams or some key players did want to play on behalf and in honor of George Floyd,” Barnes explained at the 2:22 mark of the interview. “Snoop hit me the other day talking about it, ‘cause I have talked to a few guys — not to mention no names — and he said he had talked to a couple of guys from the Lakers and the Clippers. There’s some whispers about some teams not being comfortable, some guys want to play, some guys don’t want to play.”
The league’s plan to resume play actually would see many players not playing, as only 22 of the 30 NBA teams are included in the group that would restart play at the end of July. If the entire season is canceled players would take a huge salary cut because of the lost TV revenue involved in complete cancellation of the games that were left in the regular season and all of the playoffs games. NBA players are keenly aware of the implications of writing off this season, so Barnes’ contentions that players don’t want to resume might seem highly unlikely to many observers.
Barnes’ interview comes shortly after he joined a Black Lives Matter rally in Sacramento, California, on Saturday with current and former members of the Sacramento Kings, a team he played for in the 2004-2005 season, then again in the 2016-2017 season.
The retired small forward implored the crowd at the rally to vote, but not just in the presidential elections, also in local elections.
“Now we got to beat them with our minds,” Barnes told the crowd. “This is a mental fight. So when we say go out and vote, it’s not just to get that president out of The White House. … We definitely have to get him out. … It’s the local level and the state level where laws are made and passed.”