Adam Silver Reveals Conversation with Kawhi Leonard during August Players' Strike
The NBA made history in the month of August, when the players collectively went on strike to stop the season after the shooting of Jacob Blake. No one knew if and when the season would return. Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James were willing to away from it all, in the name of social justice.
One month later, Adam Silver detailed on CNN some of the critical conversations he had with Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James during that pivotal moment.
"I spoke to both of those players and I think there was a lot of emotion around the initial decision to stop play," Silver said.
After some initial intense emotions, the players decided it would be in their best interest to play again. There were jobs on the line, and a legitimate platform for players to express themselves on a national stage; people who did nothing wrong would legitimately be out of a job in Orlando.
"I think, in part, it wasn't initially a decision that had been made collectively by all the players," Silver said. "And I think LeBron and Kawhi, given a chance to sort of step back, think about the larger impact that they could have there, the implications of not playing—incidentally, thousands of jobs for people in the Orlando community, thousands of jobs in team cities—if we had stopped playing."
The entire process took around a day, because everything needed to be done swiftly. Players had already spent months in the bubble, they wanted to see their families, and they were in the middle of the playoffs. All of them were ready for this season to end, and no one wanted to drag it on longer than it needed to be. After a day of consolidation, Kawhi and LeBron were ready to resume play.
"I think, for both of those great players, I think they did take a broader view of what was happening in society and it was only a very short time where they wanted to step back," Silver said. "I think by the next morning, both of them were fully engaged in returning to play."
LeBron James ultimately came up with the final plan, with some help from President Obama. The former president told LeBron to use his current platform in the highest way possible, and that's what players have done. Arenas have been turned to voting centers, and people are more aware of racial injustice than ever before.