It’s been an uncertain four months for much of the sports world as games have been put on hold amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Celtics will be one of several teams in Orlando that are expected to have perfect attendance on their 17-man roster for the bubble environment when the season resumes on July 30th, but everyone taking part wasn’t always a sure thing. Several members of the roster, including Jaylen Brown himself on Monday, admitted doubts about taking part in the restart at first.
“I think a lot of people including myself had some apprehensions not just because of social injustice but COVID-related, etc,” he said. “And a lot of us just initially – even on this team – just didn’t want to go.”
When asked to elaborate on those initial concerns, Brown pointed to the long period of uncertainty before NBA plans started to become more concrete.
“I think it was misinformation, or a lack of information being shared,” Brown explained of his early concerns. “It was kind of a moment where a lot of us around the league felt like we didn’t have any information. We didn’t know what was going on. Once we found out, a lot of guys came around to making their decision. For me, I can speak for myself better than anybody, I want to make that clear: I didn’t want to go to Orlando. Like I had apprehensions not just because of social justice, but COVID-related and had some family issues as well.”
Grant Williams echoed those concerns as well in the initial stages of the NBA's planning.
“I feel like it was difficult, especially at first,” Williams said. “No one knew what to expect, so I don't think we had any plan whether we were going to restart or not restart. …Especially in the beginning, no one had information so I could understand why he felt discomfort and a lot of other guys did as well.”
The NBA took their time ironing out all the details, logistics and hypotheticals that they felt would be needed for players to successfully play safely in a bubble environment. And while it remains to be seen whether the league will be successful in pulling this season off safely over the next three months, communicating those detailed plans along with a commitment to magnifying social justice issues was enough for Brown and other Celtics to put aside those concerns about playing.
“Credit to the league,” Williams explained. “When we did kind of get going and understanding that they started reaching out to the player reps, including me and Jaylen on the executive committee. They did a good job communicating from then on.”
Brown himself is looking forward to raising awareness on critical issues of social justice reform from within the bubble itself as well, something that eliminated doubts about taking part.
“I thought about the opportunity that the organization and the NBA presented to play for something bigger