Austin Rivers: NBA Can Resume Season And Support Black Lives Matter Movement

Michael Shapiro

Rockets guard Austin Rivers continued his support for the resumption of the 2019-20 season on Saturday, noting the NBA's ability to simultaneously hold games and continue its focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Rivers' comments follow a conference call held by Kyrie Irving along with over 80 fellow players on Friday. Irving expressed his opposition to the NBA's return-to-play plan, noting he is "willing to give up everything," for social reform following the death of George Floyd.

"I don’t support going into Orlando," Irving said, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. "I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls--t. Something smells a little fishy."

Irving's comments were among a number of concerns expressed by players on Friday's call. Players discussed the injury risks of a return to play after numerous months off, and there were additional questions regarding the details of the NBA's quarantine plan at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando.

Rivers disputed Irving's call for the season to be canceled. Houston's guard claimed players could use the money made in Orlando to support Black Lives Matter, and the league could also continue to give "time and energy towards the BLM movement."

"I love Kyrie’s passion towards helping this movement. I’m with it… but in the right way, and not at the cost of the whole NBA and players’ careers," Rivers wrote. "We can do both. We can play, and we can help change the way black lives are lived. …Canceling or boycotting a return doesn’t do that, in my opinion. Guys want to play and provide and help change."

The NBA's Board of Governors approved the league's return-to-play plan on June 4. The regular season is currently slated to resume on July 30, with the playoffs opening on Aug. 18. Game 7 of the NBA Finals will be no later than Oct. 13, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

The NBA will not require players to participate in the season's resumption, though players will lose a portion of their salary if they sit out games. 

Houston currently sits No. 6 in the Western Conference at 40–24. The Rockets are seeking their first Finals appearance since 1995. 

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