Udonis Haslem Called Out LeBron James During Heated Meeting
Udonis Haslem called out LeBron James during a heated meeting on Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, the Milwaukee Bucks inadvertently began what amounted to a player-led NBA-wide strike when they refused to take the floor for their game against the Orlando Magic.
The decision was made following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man.
After the Bucks boycotted their outing, the two other Games 5s scheduled for the same day — the Houston Rockets vs the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers — were also postponed.
That night, players and coaches from every team met up to discuss whether to continue on with the NBA season or not.
Lines in the sand were drawn very quickly.
LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard made the case for calling off all remaining games. Their teams, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, mostly supported those decisions. The other players and organizations present felt like all involved would be better off if they kept playing.
At one point, Haslem demanded to know what James specifically planned to do to promote social justice.
“Haslem pressed James and asked the star what he planned to do, reminding him that he’s the face of the league and it goes as he goes,” Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported.
“James then said, ‘We’re out,’ and walked out with almost all of his teammates following behind, sources said, with Dwight Howard being the only Laker who remained.”
Yahoo Sources: Inside the emotional 48 hours that saved the NBA and the vital role of Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala and LeBron James: https://t.co/yovYpwUcRs
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 28, 2020
James being in vocal opposition of continuing on with the NBA Playoffs has been the subject of much debate since.
Later in the meeting, Haslem turned his sights on Bucks guard George Hill.
“Haslem — in a clear message to George — stated that it was irresponsible and selfish for an established veteran to suggest that everyone should go home because younger players haven’t accumulated the wealth for such a drastic action,” Haynes reported.
Needless to say, there was ultimately no resolution on how to proceed with the season after Wednesday’s tense meeting.
Two veterans decided that Patrick Beverley’s disrespect was unacceptable and stepped up immediately. https://t.co/Stjes6Mffs
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 28, 2020
The next morning, however, player representatives from all the teams met once more. At that point, a unanimous decision was made to continue on with the season.
Games will re-commence this weekend.
LeBron James Has Been Vocal About Social Justice
James’ strong feelings about cancelling the remainder of the NBA season could be viewed through several lenses.
On one hand, he is 35 years old. He doesn’t have many years of high-level basketball left in him, and his championship window is closing. The fact that he was willing to sacrifice an entire season is telling as it pertains to how much social justice means to him.
On the other hand, to Haslem’s point, James is already financially stable. While cancelling the remainder of the year would have ramifications for him on a legacy level, he has already made the sort of money that a lot of other players have not. Hence his willingness to sacrifice in the name of the greater good.
What is beyond debate is how much these issues matter to James. He has been vocal about them for a long time, and that is unlikely to change regardless of what happens with the NBA.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my @IPROMISESchool kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That’s why your vote is @morethanavote ✊🏾 #BlackLivesMatter
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 27, 2020
According to Haynes, one of the things that ultimately shifted James’ opinion on resuming the NBA Playoffs was owners pledging to do more for racial issues.
“After the meeting, James felt comfortable with returning to the court,” he wrote.
“Owners promised that they would get to work on real action items that would benefit the Black community.”
What will getting to work on action items that benefit the black community ultimately entail? Time will tell.
But for now – the NBA plays on.