Lakers' Danny Green: NBA stars can create more social justice change by playing

ByTim Bontemps ESPN logo
Friday, June 19, 2020

Two of the three players who have been most vocal about the possibility of declining participating in the NBA's attempt to restart its season inside a bubble next month are Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard -- both members of the Los Angeles Lakers.

And while their teammate, Danny Green, appreciates and supports the position both of them have taken, it is his belief that players will be able to create more change by going into the bubble and playing than by choosing to stay away.

"I think we can use the platform to our advantage and enhance it," Green said in an interview with Caron Butler on the NBA's Twitter account in honor of Juneteenth. "I mean, I see both sides. But I think we can easily, and I think [with] social media and all the platforms we have and people watching us they're going to be tuning in even more when we're down there.

"[The media has been] trying to get horse games on Zoom. They're trying to follow everybody's content, everybody's Zoom, everybody's podcast, everybody's story and seeing who is doing what. When you have games that are going on, they don't have to do that. They can just watch TV and see exactly what you're talking about, see exactly what your passions are. There are going to be cameras all over Orlando, so they can see exactly what we want and what we're trying to do. So I think it's an advantage to us to get down there and use that platform to keep the movement alive. But either way we can take a stand, and that will speak volumes as well, but I don't think we have a big enough platform to see how [it would work without playing]."

To make his point, Green specifically pointed to the fact that Bradley doesn't have much of a social media presence, so it is hard for him personally to get his message out about how he feels about things. And while Bradley was one of the driving forces behind players on the Lakers putting out a single unified message -- "If YOU ain't wit US, WE ain't wit Y'ALL!" -- on social media, and told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews about changes he and the rest of the players coalition want the NBA to help them achieve, Green said Bradley's message will get even more attention if he's playing in Orlando.

"Like Avery Bradley, he's one of the guys who has spoken out, but he doesn't really have social media, so [people] don't really know how he feels, they're not really able to see and hear it from him," Green said. "But if he goes down to Orlando he's going to have to do interviews. He's going to have a hell of a game one of these nights or a hell of a quarter, and he's going to have to talk to the media.

"Even if he doesn't have a hell of a game, he's still going to have to talk to the media. So after the game they actually hear from his voice, from his mouth himself how he feels about the protests, about the social injustice, about the movement. For guys that don't have social media, or guys that don't have a big following, it's a better way for everybody to be there and be united. We also can have more meetings down there and take that and use that platform to our advantage to keep our foot on the gas and blow it up even bigger, if necessary, because if we're all together it speaks to higher volumes than if we are separated in different parts of the country."

Green said the Lakers plan to have another call among themselves, and that he hopes there will be another leaguewide call, as well. The last documented call came a week ago Friday -- which was a full week after the players voted 28-0 in favor of moving forward with the league's plan to restart in Orlando.

Players have until Wednesday to tell the league if they are going to decline to attend. Any player who voluntarily chooses not to go will not be paid, but the league has said it will not hand out any punishment beyond that.

Green said he was initially sad and disappointed, and eventually enraged, by the video of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes, and fully understands why it has led people to think skipping Orlando is the right thing to do.

"I see the stance for guys that are talking about making a stand right now," Green said. "We're figuring it out as a group. I just think too many things are leaking out before we actually move as a unified group. It seems we're divided as players, but I think we're all on the same page, and we're having multiple calls. We have a team call this week, hopefully another league call, and hopefully there's no other media people on those calls, where things leak out before we actually move together as a group and make a decision on how we're going to do things, whether or not we go to Orlando or not, but we need to move as a unified front.

"But those videos were just very heartbreaking and disappointing, and had us all in an outrage and emotional. But we want change, and obviously there's ways of going about it and we're trying to figure out the best approach for all of us without hurting ourselves and our community as well."

As far as the bubble itself, Green said that by virtue of the Lakers being a veteran team, he believes they are in position to handle the difficulties that will come with the singular circumstances surrounding the attempted restart than most other teams.

Teams are scheduled to begin testing players and holding individual workouts next Tuesday, and are supposed to head to Orlando from July 7 to July 9. They could potentially remain at Walt Disney World from then until Oct. 13 -- the latest possible day Game 7 of the NBA Finals could be.

"I think it's just important that we're together," Green said. "Obviously we're going to need Avery Bradley, we're going to need Dwight Howard to be playing for us to have a chance. But I think it's important we stay healthy, and not just our team but the league. Everybody that's in the league has to have a unified front on what we're going to do and speak with one voice. But for our team individually, as a group, [the] Lakers, we need to be together, we need to be on the same page, we've got to stay healthy. I think we have some professional guys that are on top of it and staying in shape during this time. I think we'll be a little ahead of the curve with that.

"Like I said, the biggest thing is staying healthy and just building that chemistry back and surviving the bubble. That's going to be different for a lot of teams, a lot of guys. So I think we have an advantage because we have so many veterans, we've been around for a while, we don't need to be out. We have guys who can stay inside a bubble and still focus and stay locked in, and we know what's at risk. It's going to be interesting to see how other teams interact or react to what life in the bubble is going to be."