Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James made headlines when he criticized the setup of the 2020-21 season, which featured an extremely short turnaround from the bubble in Orlando. LeBron spoke out amid all the injuries to star players in the playoffs.
Now, however, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is pushing back on the Lakers star's criticism. While she has no problem with LeBron and other players speaking out and making their voices heard, she wanted to make it known that she wasn't acting unilaterally in terms of making this season happen. She spoke to all the teams and got feedback from the players, and they voted to play.
“I don't run this union. I know that people think I do,” Roberts said. “But the players know better. They run this union. That was the reason my predecessor [Billy Hunter] got fired, because on some level, they thought that he was he was unilaterally making decisions that affected them.”
While the Lakers star wasn't addressed directly, Roberts made it clear the final decision was made by the players:
“The recommendation to start in December came from the league,” Roberts said. “So the big ask was, could we start the games in December? And the answer was not yes from Michele. The decision to play or not to play comes from the players.”
Roberts acknowledged that there were some “heated” team meetings, with some individuals dissenting. However, every team ultimately voted to return to play, including LeBron's Lakers. Robert wouldn't divulge, though, whether LeBron was one of the dissenters during those meetings.
These playoffs have been rough because of injuries, with the Lakers bowing out in Round 1 thanks in large part to Anthony Davis' injury. All four conference finalists from the bubble went out rather quickly, with the Denver Nuggets the only one to reach the second round. They were swept by the Phoenix Suns.
The players knew what they were getting themselves into, though, and money obviously played a big factor in all this. It was a tough situation all around, but the 2021-22 season will hopefully be back to normal.