NBA

Austin Rivers tells story of how players stayed in the bubble because of LeBron James

SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 27: Austin Rivers #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves holds onto the basketball prior to the game against the Sacramento Kings on March 27, 2023 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 04: LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter in game two of the Western Conference Semifinal Playoffs at Chase Center on May 04, 2023 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The NBA bubble was a concept never before seen in professional sports. However, it turns out it nearly got truncated just a few games in. Austin Rivers recounts how a players-only meeting saw the fate of the bubble lie in LeBron James’ hands.

The infamous meeting occurred following a game in which the Bucks opted not to play as a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Rivers delineates how players took turns speaking but were ultimately waiting for James’ decision. Furthermore, Heat stalwart Udonis Haslem even chimed in as the team’s spokesperson, saying, “If you [James] ain’t playing, the Heat are out.”

“Bro, when I was in the bubble, we had a meeting, a players-only meeting, to ask whether we wanted to continue playing or not,” Rivers said. “This is after the Bucks just decided not to show up and not play that one game and everybody was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ 

We had a players-only meeting and pretty much everybody was giving their opinions but nobody was listening. We were all just waiting to see if LeBron was going to play or not. And if he wasn’t, people were just going to move on and not want to play. Udonis Haslem literally grabbed the mic and gets up and goes, ‘Aye yo big bro, what we doing? Because if you ain’t playing, the Heat are out.’ And he drops the mic.”

Additionally, Rivers explained that other players, such as Patrick Beverley, tried giving their opinions but it fell on deaf ears. The NBA and its players simply heed James’ command.

“Pat Beverley spoke up for the Clippers and started talking but no one was listening,” Rivers added. “It was catastrophic. The meeting was ridiculous. 

But the point being — LeBron is so important that if he’s not playing, nobody really cares. And the fact is that he’s a huge part of the game. He’s embraced the game and embodied the game and took the game to new heights. And I think people just don’t want him to go. Especially, the guy just scored 40, he’s still playing elite basketball.”

James and the Lakers won the championship in 2020 in the bubble.

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