ESPN basketball analyst Jay Williams ripped players who are complaining about living conditions inside the NBA’s Disney World bubble, calling them “tone deaf” and challenging them to think about the “real everyday working Americans.”
In a video posted to Twitter on Sunday, Williams – who was a standout on Duke’s 2001 NCAA championship team before a motorcycle accident two years later effectively ended his NBA career – called out the handful of players who have taken to social media to grumble about the NBA’s bubble-like atmosphere in Orlando, Fla.
Stars like the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and the Lakers’ J.R. Smith in the past few days have mocked the meals being provided to all 22 NBA teams, while Smith’s teammate, Rajon Rondo, compared his luxurious hotel room to a Motel 6.
“NBA players cannot be tone-deaf. My NBA brothers, you cannot be tone-deaf right now in this current environment,” Williams said. “We all know the life that NBA players live, you are blessed, get a chance to be on planes, get a chance to have millions of dollars in your bank account, you live a different level of life. But that is drastically different than what real everyday working Americans are going through right now.
“You’re in a billion-dollar bubble,” he added. “If you want to complain about the anxieties you have from COVID-related issues, I get it, complain about that. We all have the right to complain about that. But when I hear NBA guys complaining about living facilities, food that they have being delivered to them, it is tone deaf. It is tone deaf. I want you to think about people who are everyday working people who are making minimum wage trying make ends meet, that are going to factories, that are going to really harsh working environments.”
The 38-year-old Williams also criticized the teams’ public relations departments for allowing players to post critical messages on social media. He said that it was “not the right look for the league right now.
“So when I see guys that are going into a billion-dollar bubble, a billion-dollar bubble, and are getting food delivered to them, that have beds to sleep in – you can’t complain about that,” Williams said. “Not while you’re making millions of dollars, not while your employer is going through drastic measures to protect you while they’re still paying you. When that’s not the case for everyday real working Americans. That bothers me. That bothers me.”
The NBA is aiming to start games July 30 with 22 of the top teams. The league has been on hiatus since March when it was suspended because of the pandemic.