Everybody, including the players themselves, is excited to have the 2019-20 NBA season back in a few days. However, for Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, “basketball is secondary” in the season's restart in Disney World in Orlando, Florida, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic.
McCollum, a vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, explained in a lengthy spiel why basketball, despite it being their main profession, comes second when the world spotlight shines on the league once again over the next few months:
“It’s our job,” he said. “Obviously we have a responsibility to fulfill those obligations. But it’s also our job to fulfill and protect our neighborhoods, and protect the people who look like us, and come from places like us, and don’t exactly have the same voices that we do. I think that that’s something that’s been on all of our minds. We’ve been very proactive about it. And me, a person who’s big on education, education reform, I’ve continued to try to have those conversations with like-minded people, people who care about education. We continue to figure out ways to collectively make an impact and making change. But there are people who are involved in prison reform. There are people involved in police reform, and so many other different things that are moreso up their alley. We continue to try to have those discussions, conversations. And the biggest thing for us is education. You want to be educated on the matters you’re speaking on, and really have a passion, and make sure that it’s a point of focus for you individually.”
The majority of NBA players feel hey need to use the season restart as a platform to make a difference and battle social injustices and inequalities. The Black Lives Matter movement broke out all over the country amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with many players around the league joining and even leading peaceful protests on the streets.
Several players and coaches have already launched their own initiatives and efforts. McCollum's Blazers teammate, Carmelo Anthony, launched the Social Change Fun along with buddies Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul, which aims to support grassroots organizations that work to affect change. Damian Lillard is also getting involved and making a difference.