On July 30, the NBA restarted its regular season within their newly created "NBA Bubble". This bubble, which sounded like a crazy idea when it was first mentioned, allows players to play all of their games in Orlando, Florida at Walt Disney Resort where only essential personnel can be present and offers COVID-19 testing to ensure everyone's safety. It has become the only option to allow the league to safely allow its players to get back on the court.
Not only is the season different amid the coronavirus, but there is also civil unrest after the killing of George Floyd. Many athletes are in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and are speaking up against systemic racism by kneeling during the National Anthem and wearing social justice phrases on the backs of their jerseys.
We recently had the opportunity to speak with former NBA All-Star Allan Houston, who is currently a Senior Advisor to the General Manager of the New York Knicks. Allan shared with us his thoughts on how the NBA is handling COVID-19, Black athletes protesting, what Kobe Bryant meant to society and more.
On how the NBA is handling the threat of coronavirus, Allan thinks they have done a good job.
I think the NBA does a good job of trying to understand who the players are first as people. Understand what they go through. Life is about relationships. So you have to form the relationships to see what do you really need. How can we keep you healthy? How can we keep you safe? We know that we want to bring this game back to the world. We know that sports are needed. But we can't do it at the expense of not making sure everyone's healthy and safe. I think they [NBA] have done a good job.
Allan believes that athletes speaking out on social justice "rubs a lot of people the wrong way" but it's a "good thing."
I believe COVID and the pandemic have accelerated the conversation because it has shed a light on it. Obviously, with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and all these things that have happened, this has been a conversation already. It's just now that the light is shining and then the layers are getting peeled back. I think the true heart and intention and the true identity of our country and the powers that be are being exposed. What's happening is there is just a lot of energy coming into it. Young, dynamic, intelligent athletes who are informed, who are equipped are able to speak and have knowledge. I think it rubs a lot of people the wrong way and I think that's a good thing.
To the critics that say athletes should "shut up and dribble" or keep the politics off the court, Allan says:
It's disrespectful. It's disrespectful to an athlete to say. If you're just saying "shut up and dribble" that's just saying you are there to entertain me and that's disrespectful. If you're really a fan or really respecting what the athlete has to go through to provide that level of engagement and entertainment then you got to respect what they're going through as a person.
Check out the full interview below.