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Matt Barnes: Some NBA players say they’re not comfortable playing until racial injustice addressed

Former NBA player Matt Barnes

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 19: Former NBA player Matt Barnes attends the premiere of Codeblack Films’ “Traffik” at ArcLight Hollywood on April 19, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

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Many NBA players have participated in protests advocating for racial justice, particularly in policing.

The NBA is also slated to soon begin training and playing games.

Dunk Bait:

Josiah Johnson:

Guys have literally told you, “Yo, man, we don’t really feel comfortable playing until this situation gets resolved and figured out.” Is that something that has happened?

Matt Barnes:

It is. Actually, Snoop hit me the other day too, talking about it. Because I had talked to a few guys, not to mention no names. And he said he had talked to a couple guys from the Lakers and the Clippers, and there’s some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play. Some guys don’t want to play.

I get it. Coronavirus already gave a dystopian feel to the world, and the marchers in the streets have further upended any sense of normalcy. The issues being raised are so important. Many jobs suddenly feel inconsequential. How could anyone focus on something as trivial as basketball in a time like this?

Also to be considered: Racism was a problem in the United States a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago… NBA players continued to play amid that greater injustice. There is a heightened awareness right now, and that is fantastic (though it came due to the tragic death of George Floyd). But this is not a new problem.

Ultimately, I would be surprised if any players sit out. Feeling disillusioned is completely understandable. Talking about not playing is a logical step. Actually sitting out and sacrificing high salaries and a platform to speak on these issues in a league that has supported its players speaking out (though sometimes tepidly)? That’s probably a bridge too far.

Yet, there would be some (inexact, but similar) precedent: WNBA star Maya Moore.