Michael Jordan advocates player safety, against idea of returning to play meaningless games, per report

While the NBA continues to try to figure out a return-to-play plan, several questions — including when and where games will be played, and which teams will participate — remain. Which teams would be participating has been an especially hot topic, as a wide array of possibilities have been proposed; everything from having all 30 teams return to action to finish out the regular season to just going straight to the postseason with the 16 teams that were in playoff position prior to the suspension of the league in Mid-March is on the table. 

While there is no perfect plan given the circumstances, the idea of having all 30 teams return to action has received a lot of blowback, due to the fact that the teams at the bottom of the standings in both conferences have already been eliminated from the playoff picture and thus they would basically be playing meaningless games. Given the health concerns associated with returning to play, that concept doesn’t seem smart. 

During the call with the league’s Board of Governors on Friday, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan advocated for player safety, and he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in having his players return for what would amount to meaningless games, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Hornets were in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with a 23-42 record when the season was suspended; seven games out of a playoff spot. Jordan certainly isn’t the only owner or executive to have this view, and as a result, the league having all 30 teams return to action this season isn’t likely. 

It isn’t just owners or executives that are against extra, unnecessary games either. Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Dame Lillard recently stated that he personally wouldn’t play in meaningless regular season games. 

“If we come back and they’re just like, ‘We’re adding a few games to finish the regular season,’ and they’re throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don’t have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I’m going to be with my team because I’m a part of the team. But I’m not going to be participating,” Lillard said. “I’m telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there.” 

Jordan, and Lillard, were referring to a scenario in which all 30 teams would play a set number of regular-season games to satisfy contracts with regional sports networks, so the league doesn’t lose further revenue. An alternative option to this scenario is a postseason play-in tournament, where a handful of teams fight for the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference before the playoffs begin. The league has many options to consider, but further clarity regarding a resumption should come in the near future. 

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