The NBA 2019-2020 season will resume with an alternative format starting July 31. However, at least one player, Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, confirmed that he will not play for the remainder of the season as a peaceful protest against injustice.
Under the approved 2019-2020 resumption format, the Brooklyn Nets is one of the 22 teams that would be invited to continue the season in a quarantined bubble in Orlando, Florida. Currently in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, the Nets will likely get a playoff chance with only nine teams in the East playing for eight playoff spots.
Former MVP Durant confirmed that he will not play for the Nets for the rest of the season, effectively jeopardising the chances for the Nets to win a long-shot championship even with the new format.
Durant is the biggest NBA star to publicly announce that he contracted COVID-19. In June 2019, during the 2019 NBA Finals against the would-be champions Toronto Raptors, Durant tore his Achilles tendon while still playing for the Golden State Warriors. Together with Klay Thompson's injury in the same series, it ruined the Warriors' chance of winning their 4th Championship in the last five years. Durant signed with the Nets during the offseason.
Durant also pointed out the tragic death of George Floyd as a reason why he will not continue to play. He hopes his silent protest would help bring awareness to police brutality and injustice. While there are other NBA players, active and retired, who have protested against the Floyd incident, Durant is the only player whose actions would directly affect his team.
According to NBA.com, here is what Durant has to say about the issue.
"The black community always sticks together through tragedy. But to see everybody support us in their own way is cool."
The other Brooklyn Nets superstar, Kyrie Irving, will also not play for the rest of the season. He was injured last February and underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on March 3. He has not yet fully recovered. However, Irving announced that he will fly to Orlando to support his teammates.