The NBA is Leading the Quest for Answers, But They Don't Have a Map Either

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With the future of the NBA in flux, players held a contentious meeting on Thursday. Tensions and passions ran high. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reports that LeBron James alienated some of the league's younger players with his demeanor and way he spoke.

And while this can be used as evidence against James, and maybe it should, it is not entirely surprising that there's internal friction when hundreds of disparate voices and opinions come together and try to navigate a novel situation. Not to trivialize it but that's life. Life in all its forms and relationships right now, is fractured and messy. Progress does not come without some pain and infighting — no matter how united the front is in striving for a common goal.

That's a thing you've heard over and over since athletes from all the sporting leagues have tried to juggle playing in a pandemic and being leaders in the quest for social justice. It is important, to be sure, yet one wonders if the conversation has been simplified to a level that's actually reductive.

NBA players, for all their unicorn-like abilities and temerity, are still human. Even like-minded humans have disagreements. Those tend to be amplified as the temperature of stress is ratcheted up. Few can say they've lived through a time of more upheaval and less certainty.

So here we are. We all are. Think of the person you know who has handled this past half-year the best, or a group that's excelled. I can promise you that behind closed doors and in waves, there have been missteps. Fights. Emotions that boiled up. Though not productive, they reaffirm that a person is a alive and that they care.

On the overarching questions of basic dignity and compassion, there are concrete answers. In so many gray areas, though, there may not be a right or wrong. Constantly reading tea leaves to parse out who is correct and who is less so may not be the most productive thing.

Even the best-intentioned are slipping up. Groping in the dark for the right path, which seems to shift in the dark every few days, if not hours or minutes, is tough. The NBA has been leading the way, yet the league doesn't have a great map either.