Though he is undecided on whether to play in Orlando, Wizards star Bradley Beal does not believe the NBA's restart will be a distraction from the nationwide movement for social justice reform.
Beal, whose own decision is more about his health, can see both sides, including that of Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard who have suggested NBA players should sit out to raise awareness for racial injustice. But Beal views it differently, knowing the potential the players have to continue the conversation when the spotlight is on them.
"I feel like we stopped playing basketball because of COVID. We didn't stop playing because of social justice, and I feel like we can still raise that awareness. We can still bring attention to what's going on in the world by using our platform by utilizing the names on the back of the jerseys and doing it until people get pissed off and get tired of seeing it. That's the message in which I think we're trying to push because that's the only real change that we're gonna be able to generate," he said.
"We have to utilize our platform as athletes to speak out for those who are unheard, to be vocal, to show face, to be involved. I think we're able to do both, but I get it from both sides of those who think it's a distraction. I don't think it is. But I can see how it's portrayed that way during this time."
Beal noted how his own financial situation and established platform put him in a different spot than other players who haven't achieved those things. He can forego the prorated salary if he doesn't play and still be well off. And as a two-time All-Star, he already has a name for himself and the ability to use that platform for change.
Other, less-accomplished players, however, can't yet say the same.
"I get it from the standpoint from a guy who doesn't make a lot of money who may need this. I get it from the guys who want to utilize this money to give back to their communities [and help their families]. I [also] look at it from the standpoint of the guys who just want to focus on straight social justice," Beal said.
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Beal also said he "fully" understands the decision made by Mystics guard Natasha Cloud to sit out. Cloud and Beal are friends and have worked together to write statements and organize events between their teams for social justice awareness. The Wizards and Mystics marched together on Juneteenth last month and before they started walking, Beal and Cloud addressed the crowd.
Cloud has opted out of the 2020 WNBA season due to focus on social justice reform.
"It's a tough time we're in," he said.
Beal indicated that whether he plays or not, he will be active in helping his fellow NBA players and the league continue to get the message out. He mentioned both Washington, D.C. and his hometown of St. Louis, MO, with plans to interact with local officials and lawmakers to express his beliefs on the matter.
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