NBA stars express concerns about playing again amid unrest in US

Some of the NBA’s biggest stars have expressed concerns about the league restarting play amid the racial tension in the U.S., saying that the time might not be right to tip-off once again.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving and Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard have been some of the most vocal players in questioning whether the NBA should return to play.

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According to Stadium, Irving led a conference call with about 80 players including Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. Irving reportedly didn’t express support continuing the season in Orlando.

“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,” Irving said during the call, according to Stadium.

He added he was willing to “give up everything I have” for social justice reform, according to The Athletic.

Howard said in a statement to CNN that he agreed with Irving’s sentiments.

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“Basketball, or entertainment period, isn't needed at this moment, and will only be a distraction. Sure it might not distract us the players, but we have resources at hand majority of our community don't have. And the smallest distraction for them, can start a trickle down effect that may never stop," Howard said. "Especially with the way the climate is now. I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship, that's just to (sic) beautiful to pass up."

He continued: "What better time than now for us to be focusing on our families. This is a rare opportunity that, I believe, we as a community should be taking full advantage of. When have we ever had this amount of time to sit and be with our families. This is where our Unity starts. At home! With Family!! European Colonization stripped us of our rich history, and we have yet to sit down and figure us out. The less distractions, the more we can put into action into rediscovering ourselves. Nations come out of families. Black/African American is not a Nation or Nationality. It's time Our Families became their own Nations. No Basketball till we get things resolved."

The Lakers star’s agent, Charles Briscoe, told ESPN that Howard was undecided on whether he was going to play.

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“The statement was about social injustice and racism,” Briscoe said. “Yet everybody is still talking about whether basketball should be played. He isn't saying that basketball shouldn't be. He's just saying that you should not be taking attention away from what's going on in the country to talk about basketball. Basketball is just a sport, at the end of the day. But what's going on with people dying in the streets, that's something real. That statement, it had nothing to do with sports. It had everything to do with racism and social injustice.”

The league is expected to tip-off again July 31.