(via NBC Sports)

The NBA is planning a return for July 31st, but not everyone is on board. Multiple stars around the association have expressed concern over playing as a result of COVID-19.

For others, their problem with playing involves playing through the social justice and racial equality protests that have rocked the nation. Guys like Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard, in particular, have taken the stance that playing would be a distraction to the BLM movement and would draw attention away from the cause they are backing.

On ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith explained why he doesn’t agree with that position.

While he understands not wanting to play because of COVID-19, to Smith, the protests are not an excuse to not show up to work.

He argues that protesting alone isn’t enough to instill real change and that these players have already done their job by drawing attention to the issue. He says it’s time to pass these issues on to people who can take action instead of continuing to make noise.

Smith is certainly right in that words alone won’t make a permanent change. These protests have been good at getting people to listen but true action needs to be taken.

In the end, things have to move on. And while the community can (and should) continue fighting for racial equality, there has to come to a point where people (NBA players in particular) go back to work. Playing basketball doesn’t have to be considered a distraction — it’s just a sign that the next step to progress has arrived.