If you weren’t sure how serious and life-changing the historic NBA walkout is, the players’ vote late Wednesday night after the postseason was halted should clue you in.
The players and the teams that had the most to lose voted to walk away from the playoffs and leave the NBA season undone.
Yes, burst The Bubble and go home.
According to reports, in a league-wide meeting involving every NBA player in Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers both voted against finishing the season.
All the remaining teams voted to continue playing.
And while it’s still unclear what exactly the L.A. votes mean — was it merely a vote to take a temperature of where players’ heads were and everyone continues to play or do those two teams actually bow out?
Either way, the shooting of Jacob Blake by white police in Wisconsin has turned The Association on its head.
So much so, that even LeBron James has had enough.
The idea that James, the Lakers’ star and face of the NBA, would vote to stop playing is significant. It’s a brave sign of selflessness that is certainly commendable.
Let’s be honest. LeBron, 35, has the most to lose. The clock is ticking on his legendary career.
Most honestly believe that this is LeBron’s best, last chance to win another championship, which would be his fourth.
After all, this is season 17 in his career. And despite having a tremendous regular season, no one can predict how well he will be able to play next season and beyond.
Of all the players that would want to stick it out and play the postseason to its conclusion, James would have to be first on the list.
This is a huge reversal for James. Don’t forget. Before players actually entered The Bubble to avoid COVID-19 and finish the season, there were players against going.
And it just wasn’t about being isolated from loved ones during a dire time in our country.
Many simply didn’t want to take away from the focus and the fight that was playing out all over America. Protests were going strong to fight police brutality and racial injustice. Many had taken to the streets.
The Nets’ Kyrie Irving — and some other NBA ballers — were vocal against entering The Bubble, fearing it would take the focus off the movement that was in place and fully energized.
James was on the other side. He was all-in on The Bubble and thought players could still play and not lose sight of the bigger mission at hand.
In fact, LeBron led the fight for the NBA restart. James believed they could play while also having a voice for social change.
“Because of everything that’s going on, people are finally starting to listen to us,” James told the New York Times back in June. “We feel like we’re finally getting a foot in the door. How long is up to us. We don’t know. But we feel like we’re getting some ears and some attention, and this is the time for us to finally make a difference.”
That has all changed now.
The same goes for his Lakers teammates and the Clippers.
The Lakers — with the addition of Anthony Davis — had the best regular-season record in the Western Conference. They entered The Bubble as Las Vegas’ favorite to win the title. Again, with so many questions about players and the roster beyond this year, the Lakers have a lot to play for. For them to vote against finishing the postseason speaks volumes.
Same goes for the Clippers, the longtime losers. For once, they have a real squad, a championship-caliber team. Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, added to an already strong nucleus, gave the Clippers a great shot to be the final team standing at season’s end. Many NBA experts and analysts were all-in on the Clippers.
The Lakers and the Clippers both were willing to walk away from all the hard work they have put in all year old.
In the players’ meeting, according to reports, James said he wanted to see more action and involvement from NBA ownership. Later, it was reported as well, that James walked out of the meeting and both the Lakers and Clippers followed him.
It was no stunt, no grandstanding.
Current events have clearly moved players like never before.