Will any Phoenix Suns players sit out at Disney?

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

There a growing number of players who feel the NBA shouldn’t return, after all. Are there any members of the Phoenix Suns in the group?

What seemed like a certainty has been infused with a shred of doubt. The NBA, owners, and players association agreed to a 22-team return in the bubble environment of Disney World, however, now many players are voicing some serious concerns. Led by Kyrie Irving, there is a growing number of players who feel like it might be best to sit out the bubble season. Is any member of the Phoenix Suns among them?

As of now, we don’t know. No Phoenix Suns player has been specifically mentioned as voicing concerns, and no individual player has spoken via their own social media to advocate support for sitting out.

Phoenix Suns players have a big decision on their hands.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN said there are three factions of players on the issue. The first group which contains Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard as its most prominent members is against returning to play, with Howard saying he isn’t in the mood to go play basketball.

The next group is in the wait-and-see cohort where they understand the concerns and share them, but aren’t fully convinced sitting out is the best action to take.

Finally, and in Windhorst’s opinion, this is the largest faction, there is a group of players who wants to get back on the court and feels like playing in this environment would actually serve as a good platform to elevate social issues.

Ed Davis of the Utah Jazz is in this last group and had some strong words directed towards Irving and Howard.

"“It’s easy for a guy like Kyrie [Irving] to say that he’ll give everything back [for social reform], but would he really give everything back? It’s easy for Dwight Howard to say that we don’t need to play when he’s in Atlanta in his $20 million mansion.”"

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Davis, a 10-year veteran role-player, makes the argument that while it’s not about the money, it’s kind of also about the money. If the players sit out (which effectively would be a strike at this point since the union already agreed to return), and all of that money gets lost, it could cripple the cap next season, potentially cause a CBA crisis and maybe even a lockout.

Davis goes on to argue this money could be used to help create generational wealth for the black community, and more acutely, generate funds that could be funneled directly to important causes to help fight against police brutality and systemic racism.

He summarizes his thoughts nicely by saying:

"“[Change] isn’t just gonna happen because of us boycotting and not playing and shutting it down. And then, we’re really gonna be set back.”"

If I were a player, I feel like I’d be in Ed Davis’s camp, but one of the many lessons we all learned from the Colin Kaepernick situation is that it isn’t up to society to dictate the proper way to protest.

Just because I wouldn’t sit out the season, doesn’t mean I can jump on my soap blog and condemn those who feel not playing is the best way to express their voice.

While the George Floyd murder and subsequent widespread action added serious complications to an already complex situation, let’s not forget the other, more tangible risk of playing: COVID-19.

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A few weeks ago, I hypothesized if it would be wise for Suns players to participate in a return to play, but that was before we knew the format. My conclusion at the time was, if there was no viable path to the playoffs, it might be smart for star players (i.e. Devin Booker) to sit out because the risk of acquiring COVID-19 far outweighs the benefit of a few extra games.

But ever since the return became official, the excitement surrounding more Phoenix Suns basketball overshadowed the very real question players will have to ask themselves: wait, should I play?

Let’s be real. In order for the Suns to make the play-in game, they are going to have to win pretty much every game and hope for some losses by the teams directly above them in the standings. While it is mathematically possible, practically it’s a long shot.

Maybe a 23-year-old max player like Devin Booker looks at that combined with the restricted bubble environment, the global pandemic that is spiking again (wear a mask in public, you heathens), the social issues of the day, and simply says, “Nah. I’m good. I’ll probably just go hang out with my supermodel friend for those few weeks instead.”

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Ultimately, every player will have to make the best decision for them. From a selfish standpoint, I want everyone to play and go as hard as they did in the first few weeks of the season. I want to watch the team grow and provide some hope for next season.

However, if Booker or Rubio or Oubre or anyone else decides sitting out is best for them, I will respect that choice and be ready to support them when they do get back on the court.

2020 has thrown more once-in-a-lifetime grenades at society than we may ever see again, and everyone processes and navigates them differently. We have to respect those who go about this differently than we do.

Except, of course, those who don’t wear a mask in public. You’re just contributing to the spike. Wear a freaking mask, and go Suns.

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