Thursday, August 27, 2020

NBA players head strike

What started as a refusal to play by the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks snowballed into a complete shutdown of games. The rest of the NBA, WNBA, 8 of 32 MLB teams, and 10 of 12 MLS teams players all followed the Bucks lead. The USL and NHL played games as normal.

It's understandable for NBA players to not want to play games. They are stuck in a bubble away from family and friends while outside the bubble there is a pandemic, intense protests, another police shooting (with a deadly citizen response) rages on. For the Bucks, tensions were already high because one of the players was harassed and beaten in a big box store parking lot last year.

Things got pretty messy over in MLS. 

The NBA strike was in full swing before the start of the evening games in Major League Soccer. A couple players (notably, Jozy Altidore and Mark Anthony-Kaye) jumped on Twitter to express their feelings, which were basically in solidarity with the NBA strike.

Orlando City and Nashville then kicked off. Notably, only one player on the Orlando side kneeled (Nani). About halfway through the 1st half news of players from the other games meeting about not playing. Around this time the league (MLS) and Don Garber released a mystifyingly vague statement about the current social environment. It seemingly lit a fire under the players and shortly thereafter decisions were made by the players to not play. Effectively canceling the games.

In another statement later in the night, Garber issued a statement that alluded to the idea that it was the league that made the call and not the players, which is a complete fabrication and lie.


Players refusing to play without the league or player's union approval is the same as workers walking off the job without their union's say. This is commonly called a "wildcat strike." It's a well-worn path in union shops (particularly in corrupt areas, but we won't get into that). Many news outlets are calling it a "boycott" but that's incorrect. What are they boycotting? No players issued a statement calling out their own league employers. I don't think the term fits.


The decision the Bucks made to not play and the speech they gave afterward came from the heart. They have been put in a fishbowl and, looking back now, this is probably the predictable result. MLS players, fresh off their own fishbowl, are doing the same. 


Apparently, all remaining NBA teams met last night to vote on canceling the rest of the season and only the two LA teams (notably LeBron James) voted to cancel the season. Everyone else wants to play.

In MLS, who knows. Last night it felt like the league was falling apart in real-time. The NBA, season canceling or not, will survive. I don't think MLS can afford to lose the season.

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