In a recent interview, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel commented on the controversy that surrounded his team weeks before they won the 2020 NBA championship — the rumors that they were one of two clubs that voted to boycott the rest of the postseason amid protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. According to Vogel, some of the reports about the Lakers’ reaction to the incident might have been blown out of proportion.
As quoted by SB Nation‘s Silver Screen and Roll, Vogel appeared on Saturday’s edition of Zach Lowe’s The Lowe Post podcast, where he agreed with the ESPN insider’s comment that certain reports about the Lakers’ supposed decision to walk out of the NBA’s Orlando, Florida, bubble environment in the middle of the playoffs were “hyperbolic.” The coach explained that the team wasn’t sure what to do for about three days following Blake’s shooting, and while he was confident most players wanted to finish the 2019-20 season, he was aware there were a few who were far more serious when it came to social justice issues.
“When that report came out that quote-unquote ‘the Clippers and the Lakers voted to not finish the season,’ I was shocked, I was floored, I didn’t really understand it. We met with some of our guys to get their perspective and it was really just like an unofficial poll of like how (they were) feeling in the moment, you know what I mean? I think some more conversations continued to happen and it became clear that we were all interested in staying to play.”
Although Silver Screen and Roll speculated that Vogel’s denial might be construed by some as “revisionist history” given the Lakers’ eventual NBA Finals victory, the outlet pointed out that there were indeed some players who did their part to debunk the rumors soon after they emerged. For instance, veteran forward/guard Danny Green was quoted as saying shortly after the league voted to resume the season that not all of the reports regarding the matter were accurate. Specifically, he said that most of the stories about what LeBron James supposedly said about a potential walkout were “untrue.”
“It wasn’t as crazy as everybody made it seem,” Green noted at that time.
“[The] details aren’t as drastic.”
For his part, James admitted late last month that playing in the bubble was the “most challenging” thing he’s done in his 17-year professional basketball career. While he did not directly address the claims that he was among the driving forces behind a potential Lakers boycott, he stressed that he was determined to continue helping his team win a championship.
Analyzing Vogel’s recent comments, Silver Screen and Roll concluded that it’s likely that there were some Lakers who felt reluctant about continuing the postseason. However, the outlet added that these players might have ultimately “[gotten] on the same page” with their teammates and decided to keep playing while using their platforms to raise awareness about systemic racism and other related issues.