It’s been a mind-boggling couple of days for the Lakers.
In a nearly 24-minute interview on Friday, Danny Green described the two hectic days that shaped the fate of the NBA playoffs.
It all started Wednesday afternoon when the Milwaukee Bucks have decided to stay in their locker room for Game 5 of their first round playoff series against the Orlando Magic to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Many of the Lakers players were in bed when they heard the news.
“We went from being about to play a game at 9pm, to waking up in the middle of a nap, people knocking on our doors, saying we have an emergency meeting,” Green said. “Waking up in the middle of a nap not knowing what the hell is going on and that we probably won’t play.”
The Lakers supported the Bucks. But what was next? What was the plan?
All three NBA games were postponed Wednesday, and players agreed to hold a meeting at 8pm that night to discuss whether to cancel the postseason or continue playing.
“Some teams were in favor, some were not,” Green said. “Some teams said they weren’t for that, and the next thing they changed their minds. He went back and forth with different parties.”
The match ended with the Lakers and Clippers voting to stop playing. After three hours, LeBron James, the face of the league, called.
“He’s our leader, he made a decision for us, and we were behind him regardless of what he was,” Green said.
Green didn’t want to speak for James, but he did provide a window into what he was thinking at the time.
“You could tell he was in a bit of a place where he was fighting with his mind and his heart,” Green said. “His heart was in one place, his mind in another. And one could only say that the bubble is not just coming to him, but to everyone.”
Green added that many reports from that meeting were not accurate.
“I’ve heard many different stories,” Green said. “‘LeBron said this, LeBron did that. So-and-so he said this, so-and-so he said that.’ Which is, I think partly, most of it wasn’t true. “
Nobody slept much that night.
The Lakers kept talking to each other and to other teams.
“We’ve always been with most of the time,” Green said. “It wasn’t like we were trying to make decisions for the championship, like ‘Everyone else said yes, we’re saying no’. That’s not how it was.”
That’s for sure.
The players were under enormous pressure.
They had already lived in some kind of pressure cooker, confined in a bubble away from their families for nearly two months amid a global pandemic and widespread social unrest.
And after another black man was killed in 2020 at the hands of police officers, players felt like they needed to do something.
They felt the weight of the world on their shoulders.
“It’s not our job to really save the world, even if we’re trying,” Green said. “We are trying our best, we know we are on the front line. We are leading. Whatever we do, people follow it. So we are trying our best to be both, even if we are not politicians.”
Green said it was an incredibly busy evening and players couldn’t be expected to find a solution in such a short time.
The players gathered on Thursday and ultimately voted to resume the season.
“It’s not something that was going to happen overnight,” Green said. “We knew it. And Bron knew it. So for them to think we were going to do it all that night wasn’t realistic, I think. But it wasn’t as crazy as everyone seemed. The details aren’t as drastic as the things you’ve heard.”
Later on Thursday, the players met with the team owners to make a series of requests. Green said they were “very receptive”.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts released a joint statement on Friday in which they agreed to establish a coalition for social justice, work to convert arenas into voting centers, and include commercials promoting “a major civic engagement “during all playoff games.
“I think great things are happening,” Green said. “And it was nice to have our owners’ backs.”
It was an unprecedented season for the Lakers, which began with drama during their pre-season trip to China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters, followed by deep grief after the Kobe Bryant’s death in January, followed by confusion and fear. after the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, followed by anger after George Floyd was murdered by a police officer in May.
Then it happened on Wednesday.
“We have a PhD in adversity management by now,” said Lakers manager Frank Vogel. “We’ve been through a lot this year.”
The Lakers are in the midst of their first playoff appearance in seven years and are looking to win their first championship in a decade, but Green said they were willing to drop everything.
They want social justice more than anything else.
“We will be black men forever,” Green said. “And that will never change. So, whether it’s about winning a championship or doing something better for people or for our communities, we’ll pick that first. And if we have to make a strong statement with walking away and we heard that was the best thing to do, so we would do it. “
Eventually, the players decided that the best way to achieve their goals would be together in Florida.
They can grow their platforms, speak in front of the national television audience, and fight for a common cause.
It’s been a tense couple of days.
But they are fighting for something much bigger than them.
“When we’re divided, we’re not that strong,” he said.