Besides just discussing basketball matters in his video call with reporters on Tuesday, Shake Milton gave some thoughtful statements on other subjects. Specifically, the NBA’s plan to return in Orlando, and how the movement against racial injustice can continue.
The latter is clearly something Milton feels strongly about. While he explained that the season resuming in Orlando gives players a new platform to use, he’s interested to see what the NBA is actually going to do. Putting phrases on jerseys and courts isn’t enough.
“I think it’s good [being able to use returning in Orlando as a platform], I think we should definitely do it,” Milton said when asked about using the time in Orlando to tackle racial injustice. “I want to know how we’re going to go about doing it, that’s really my concern. I’ve heard ideas about the names on the back of the jerseys and putting stuff on the court, but I kind of want to see what the NBA is actually going to do.
“I mean, that’s cool and all, but that’s kind of like the same as having a t-shirt and you see someone’s face and it says ‘RIP’ on the back. That’s only going to take you so far. So I’m interested to see what else the NBA has planned and what else they’re going to do.”
Milton shares similar concerns to some of his teammates. Josh Richardson has reiterated the need to “focus on what’s important”, to continue speaking up against racial injustice. Mike Scott described the pre-approved list of messages for the back of jerseys as “terrible,” as it took away the chance for players to have their own say. Meanwhile, Joel Embiid simply said that he “hated” the idea of the NBA returning with everything that’s going on right now and the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
Ultimately, due to wanting to keep people’s focus on more important matters and safety concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Milton doesn’t feel like the season should be resuming.
“I don’t really think we should be playing, but I think the NBA is doing all that they can to make the environment as safe as possible,” Milton said. “My teammates want to play, so we’re going to go down there and try to win.”
“I think [the spread of COVID-19], and then also I feel like there’s a lot of other stuff going on,” Milton added when explaining why he thinks the season shouldn’t continue. “There are issues going on right now in the world that are way bigger than a sport, way bigger than the game of basketball. I feel like we’re on the cusp of finally having people tune in and really try to listen and try to understand more about the things that are happening in our country. I feel like the moment is too big right now and I don’t want the game of basketball to overshadow it.”
Milton’s heart is clearly in the right place. While Sixers players and others around the league feel the need to play for a variety of reasons (including not wanting to let their teams down), there are far more significant matters than basketball at the moment. It’s good to hear how eager Milton is for people to keep their focus on the movement against racial injustice, and how he’s already using his platform to speak up.