Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando Magic and NBA players still sorting through next steps

The NBA will restart soon as the league maps out what comes next for the Orlando Magic and the rest of the league. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
The NBA will restart soon as the league maps out what comes next for the Orlando Magic and the rest of the league. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic are waiting for the NBA to map out what comes next after the player sit-in. This will be a continuing process to use its platform best.

The Orlando Magic were caught by surprise. They were on the floor ready to play Game 5 on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks did not show up.

In the initial moments, as everyone was trying to figure out what was happening, there was some confusion. The FOX Sports Florida broadcast was behind on trying to figure things out, going through their regular pregame preparation before cutting to a suddenly empty court.

As the Magic began to understand what the Bucks were doing, they too left the floor. And the historic moment began.

"“I think it’s important that we say and believe and we do stand with them,” Michael Carter-Williams said in an interview the Orlando Magic released. “It was a quick decision that they made. It was an emotional decision. Guys in that locker room have their own issues with police in Milwaukee. It was very heartfelt. It is their backyard. It’s understandable the choice that they made. It is what it is and we stand with them. Maybe it was an inconvenience at the time. But I think it was a lot bigger than that. We do stand with them. We support them and we’re there with them.”"

It was a confusing moment that needed some clarity.

That came as reporting trickled in to say the Bucks would sit-in for the game. They waited nearly three hours to craft their statement and what they wanted to see. That wait included contacting the chairman of their team and to get in contact with the Wisconsin attorney general and other legislative officials.

In the immediate moment, the Bucks were able to get connected to those in power to demand direct action and redress of their grievances. Their sit-in worked to create a dialogue with those in power.

To those thinking the protest would not lead to some concrete action, the proof was there that it was leading to some steps forward.

The rest of the league spent Wednesday night and a good chunk of Thursday discussing their next actions. They have reportedly decided to continue the season. The league sent out a press release saying games were likely to continue Friday or Saturday.

Around noon Friday, the league had not made any announcements about the games continuing. The Magic sent out a message to media announcing a practice availability for this afternoon. At the least, it seems Saturday is the soonest games will begin again.

More from Orlando Magic Daily

But there still seems a lot of questions that need to be answered before the sit-in ends. The league has to be more transparent — with the players at least — on the change they want to make and the message they want to give. That is on top of the actions they will take — because words are meaningless with actions behind them.

NBA players will still be at the center of it. Whenever the games resume, they will have their say and use their platform to advance social justice causes.

"“It’s emotional, so it’s not easy,” Michael Carter-Williams said Thursday. “Talking about those things are important. We have a big platform that we can use to make a change in this country. It starts with going home to our own cities and making a change there. It starts with encouraging people to vote. It starts with using our platform to talk to people with power in this country and creating change.”"

Carter-Williams has perhaps been the most outspoken and visible Magic player in the fight for social justice.

He was present at the protests throughout Downtown Orlando in June and July following the death of George Floyd. He participated in a virtual town hall with Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings to discuss issues of race, diversity and action around that time.

To those thinking NBA players were all talk and no action, that cannot be further from the truth. Many players have taken action around the league to foster communication and discussion with their communities. Let alone they are putting in the financial investment and the sweat equity of being on the streets to demand change.

Boycotts, protests and sit-ins are just the beginning of a conversation. Progress first takes people to become aware of the problem and listening to the experiences of those demanding change.

The players and the league are now trying to figure out their next steps to turn that listening into more concrete steps forward. And maybe that concrete step is to demand greater empathy and change from higher levels of government. Indeed, that is part of the initial push the Bucks made before they left the arena Wednesday.

There is still a lot of work to do though.

"“I think we weighed the pros and cons,” Carter-Williams said. “We obviously agree that whether we play or not, we still have to do our best to make a change and do our part in the community. I think that’s the biggest thing. It wasn’t easy. It’s obviously not easy given everything that is going on. If we go out there and do our best and also have a list of things we want to accomplish everything gets complete.”"

As Clinton Yates of The Undefeated wrote, the protest and sit-in was as much a political statement to demand change as a need to step back and take a breath and mourn for a bit.

For a lot of players, this fight is intensely personal. These are the injustices that many members of this community have suffered. They have survived in many ways because of their privilege as athletes — and even that has not fully protected them from police brutality.

There is a lot of frustration and sorrow in the NBA family. This latest shooting has taken a toll on them. They made a good-hearted effort to keep social justice issues in front of mind as they resumed play. To see another Black man shot in the back excessively by police has struck a chord with them.

This is a process. And it is OK if there are no clear answers yet for what comes next.

In the next few hours, the league is likely to announce how it will return. They will likely announce the next steps they will take in conjunction with the players. The games will continue likely this weekend.

dark. Next. Orlando Magic, NBA players deserve our gratitude

But there is still a lot to sort through emotionally and procedurally. Those steps will come when they do.