76ers' Tobias Harris is Motivated to Resume the Season Next Month
Next month, the Philadelphia 76ers are scheduled to fly out to Orlando, Florida to join 21 other NBA teams in a 'bubble' to resume the 2019-2020 season. The plan to return was cleared by the NBA Board of Governors a couple of weeks back after a 29-1 vote. For months, NBA players seemed anxious to get back out onto the court to compete, but lately, there have been some reservations.
For starters, the COVID-19 pandemic has not disappeared and gone away. The virus still very much exists, hence the reason why games will be played in a bubble city without any random fans in attendance. In addition to fears about potentially catching the coronavirus, some players also believe the league's return could take the attention off of the country-wide protests related to racism, police brutality, and social injustice.
Therefore, the NBA has decided to allow players not to attend Orlando to play if they don't feel comfortable. While a handful of players seem to be mulling over the decision to play or not, Philadelphia 76ers veteran forward Tobias Harris isn't one of them. According to Harris himself -- he's playing next month.
"I've heard everybody's opinions and viewpoints, and none of them are wrong," Harris told Ernie Johnson in a live conversation on Twitter. "If somebody feels this way, that's how they feel, and nobody should be able to take that from because in this period of time, with everything that's going on from the deaths, the police brutality, from the quality. It's all affecting people and especially African Americans mentally in a way that you can't understand unless you're that person."
While Harris understands the circumstances as to why some players might feel like playing at this time is wrong -- the 76ers' forward makes it clear he's ready to go. "I believe that if we are suited up to play, I'll be ready to play, my guys and my team is ready to play, and I truly believe we have a chance to win a championship," Harris said. "I'm ready. I've always kept myself and my mental in that state of being ready to play. I do believe that this is important just to be able to push the message, even more so for me, I'm ready to play. If the group as a collective to size is the best decision."
Although Harris doesn't share the same viewpoint of others who don't want to play as they believe the NBA might become a distraction, he's far from silent on the discussion about racism and police brutality in America. Throughout the last few weeks, Harris has used his Twitter, Instagram, and The Players' Tribune to get various messages out there. Also, Harris joined multiple protests in Philly this month.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_