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NBA playoffs to resume tomorrow

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced the playoff season will resume on Saturday, following a boycott in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake. Yahoo Finance's Dan Roberts joins Akiko Fujita to discuss, along with a new report that Big Ten is considering starting the college football season in the fall.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Well, the NBA is set to resume playoff games tomorrow after players boycotted the games to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake. Let's bring in Dan Roberts to break down the very latest on what has, Dan, not only become a basketball story, but a sports story. We've heard from a number of players and former players over the last few days. What are we now hearing from the league and the Players Association as they look to resume the playoff games?

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, absolutely, Akiko. And first of all, I agree, this is totally sports-wide, across all the major leagues. I hesitate to say it's unprecedented. In many ways, it feels like 1968. But certainly, this is sweeping the whole sports landscape.

Now, at the NBA, where this started, the playoffs will resume tomorrow, so that's good. In the end, that'll be three nights in a row where the playoff games didn't happen. And the key here from the NBA and the NBA Players Association, which have just come out with a statement-- I would point to three things that are happening.

A social justice coalition that is being formed-- and the daily role-- daily-- for that coalition will be to listen to player activism ideas and try to make those happen. Second, teams where the team owners are the majority owners of the property, the arena where the team normally plays-- of course, right now, all 13 teams still left are in Orlando-- but teams where the owners own their arena are going to try to use those as voting locations when we talk about the election. And that's gonna obviously allow these players to really push civic engagement. Right now, they're big on saying that everyone should vote.

And then we're also gonna see more advertising spots for civic engagement and for social justice. We've already seen a little bit of that from the NBA, from the WNBA, from a lot of these leagues saying Black lives matter. But of course, that's just words. And now we're really getting into action.

And I think the most interesting thing that has come out of the last few days, mostly from NBA beat reporters, is that LeBron James, who's obviously a huge leader-- I mean, in many ways, it's LeBron's league-- wanted to just end the season. And he originally voted to just walk out and end the season. The Lakers and Clippers both voted for that. Even though he supported the Bucks, who were the first movers here, and supported the [INAUDIBLE], he said, well, we need to have some kind of action-- like, you know, ending play just doesn't really do enough. Now he is reportedly satisfied because they're getting the owners and the league and the Players Association all together to take more action instead of just putting out words.

AKIKO FUJITA: Dan, let's talk about another sport we're watching closely. Some developments over the last few hours on college football-- reports that the Big Ten is now considering its fall season after initially postponing the fall games. Now, what's changed?

DAN ROBERTS: Well, not much, right? And this story just kind of fascinates me. I've been covering this closely.

You're right, the Big Ten canceled, and we should say that the Pac-12 did as well. I guess we should say postponed, but it's important to explain to people, no one really thinks that spring college football is realistic, for a number of reasons. So even though the announcement initially from those two conferences was that they're postponing till spring, that seems like a pipe dream. So it really feels like they canceled their 2020 season.

Now, those two conferences-- the Pac-12 kind of explained, here's our reasoning. The Big Ten didn't, and it's a reminder that the Five-- Power Five conferences really operate completely independently. There's no commissioner of college football. So those two conferences canceled. The three remaining conferences did not and are moving full steam ahead.

And now, sure enough, lo and behold, surprise surprise, reports that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are trying to reverse that decision. They're going to meet to discuss maybe starting their seasons around the time of Thanksgiving, maybe one week after Thanksgiving. They're still claiming that, if they don't do that, they'll start in January. But I don't think anyone really believes that's feasible.

Look, the larger story here is A, this time has just illustrated for everyone who maybe didn't realize just how much there's a lack of leadership in college football. The NCAA does not serve the role of a commissioner. There's no czar. There's no commissioner.

And it's a reminder that these conferences that maybe canceled a little hastily, they expected the remaining three conferences to cancel. And I think when the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 didn't and said we're still gonna play, suddenly the Big Ten and Pac-12 said, oh my goodness. And of course, if the remaining three conferences play and it goes OK and it's not a disaster, then you're gonna see huge second-guessing of the Big Ten and the Pac-12.

So that's why we're seeing reports that they're reconsidering. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's a guarantee that they'll reverse their decision. But boy, it's kind of a mess, isn't it, logistically?

AKIKO FUJITA: I mean, Dan, you talk about the lack of leadership, but also, I mean, doesn't that just point to just how important the money is for these universities and sports? I mean, that's why we're talking about a restart in Thanksgiving instead of looking ahead to spring, which was the initial talk.

DAN ROBERTS: Of course, and I think what the average person does know is how important the football revenue is for the schools, not just for the athletic budgets. You know, football really funds all the other sports, but even at many schools, for the whole overall academic budget.

But I think what you have to think about also is all the different arms that are affected if certain conferences don't have college football. It's not just the schools and the students, the kids, and their families, and the parents and the boosters and local businesses in places like, you know, where Ohio State is or Tuscaloosa, Alabama, all these businesses that won't get to set up shop, but also the networks that cover these games. I mean, just today Pac-12 Network, which is owned by ESPN and Disney, had huge layoffs. And then, Big Ten Network is owned by Fox.

Those networks are in big trouble job-wise. And even if those two conferences don't play and the other three do, ESPN's gonna lose a lot of money from missing out on certain Big Ten games. So there are so many stakeholders here if there's no college football in the fall.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, no question. It speaks to the challenge that so many businesses face, which is the safety element as well, but also the money element. Dan Roberts, thanks so much for breaking that down for us.