Kyrie Irving is reportedly among more than 80 players who participated in a conference call on Friday. The primary purpose of the call was to speak out against the resumption of the NBA season. The Athletic‘s Shams Charania reported the call on Twitter, saying sources gave him details about the virtual meeting.
According to those sources, Irving said he didn’t support going to Orlando while there is social unrest around the country.
“I don’t support going into Orlando.” Irving reportedly said, “I’m not with the systematic racism and the b—. Something smells a little fishy.”
Charania said Irving wasn’t the only big-name NBA star on the call. Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Donovan Mitchell also took part, according to sources familiar with the call. They also allegedly voiced their displeasure with resuming the season next month, especially if the George Floyd and Black Lives Matters protests are still going on.
Social injustice wasn’t the only reason some players reportedly said they didn’t want to resume the 2020 season. Dwight Howard and some other members of the NBA Player’s Association talked about their concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Those players were said to claim the league is spending more time trying to get back to playing and less time worrying about safety issues related to COVID-19.
Charania said Irving told the players on the call that not only is he willing to forgo this season, but he’s willing to “give up everything” he has for social reform. The reporter also made it clear that not everyone on the call agreed with Irving, though sources told him that “every voice was heard” as the group discussed whether or not to support asking for the season to be permanently canceled.
The phone call came less than a week after former NBA player Matt Barnes told a podcast he heard reports of players wanting to postpone a return to play. At the time, Barnes wasn’t willing to share which players had spoken to him about their concerns. He did make it clear that players who talked to him about canceling the season were unhappy about starting the season in the middle of the kind of social unrest they are witnessing around the country.
Before the Charania’s sources told him about the call featuring Irving and other NBA stars, most league analysts chalked up Barnes’ comments to rumors. It’s not known what, if any, recourse the players have when it comes to keeping the league shut down. As of Friday night, the league has not commented on the conference call.