The NBA announced that all three of Wednesdayâs playoff games will be postponed after the Milwaukee Bucks became the first NBA team to sit out a game in the bubble over social justice issues when they did not take the court for Wednesdayâs scheduled 4 p.m. tipoff against the Orlando Magic.
Angered by the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, the teamâs actions reflect a growing movement among NBA players to take a bigger stand against issues facing Black people in the United States.
Blake, 29, was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisc., prompting outrage across the nation and powerful reflection among players in the NBA bubble. Kenosha is under an hour away from Milwaukee, but the Bucks players are in Florida as part of the NBAâs restart in a âbubbleâ format.
The two other games set for Wednesday were Game 5 matchups between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers.
The NBA said all games will be rescheduled, but did not say when. NBA players are meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday to discuss further steps.
Magic players and referees were on the basketball court for the game but Milwaukee never took the floor. Eventually everyone else left and the arena staff soon took the balls, towels and tags that go on player chairs back inside.
âWe werenât given advanced notice about the decision but we are happy to stand in solidarity with Milwaukee, Jacob, and the entire NBA community,â Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said. âChange is coming.â
The Celtics and Raptors are still weighing the possibility of boycotting the first game of their second-round playoff series on Thursday, players said Wednesday.
âObviously, if we sit out a game or the rest of the playoffs, we understand how big of an impact that will have,â Celtics wing Jayson Tatum said Wednesday. âEverybodyâs going to have to talk about it. We donât want to just keep playing and forget about whatâs going on in the outside world because itâs affecting us. Itâs affecting everybody.â
On Twitter, NBA star LeBron James chimed in as the news of the boycott trickled out.
Alex Lasry, the senior vice president of the Bucks, said on the platform that âsome things are bigger than basketball.
âThe stand taken today by the players and org[anization] shows that weâre fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. Iâm incredibly proud of our guys,â he said.
Some things are bigger than basketball. The stand taken today by the players and org shows that weâre fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. Iâm incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change
In Florida, National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder and guard Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets were seen emerging from a conversation, not long before it became known that their teams also decided to not play their scheduled game Wednesday.
Demanding societal change and ending racial injustice has been a major part of the NBAâs restart at Walt Disney World. The phrase âBlack Lives Matterâ is painted on the arena courts, players are wearing messages urging change on their jerseys and coaches are donning pins demanding racial justice as well.
Many players wrestled for weeks about whether it was even right to play, fearing that a return to games would take attention off the deaths of, among others, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in recent months.
Bucks guard George Hill said after Blake’s shooting that he felt players shouldn’t have come to Disney.
âWeâre the ones getting killed,â Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is Black, said in an emotional postgame speech Tuesday night. âWeâre the ones getting shot. Weâre the ones that weâre denied to live in certain communities. Weâve been hung. Weâve been shot. And all you do is keep hearing about fear. Itâs amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back. And itâs just, itâs really so sad.â
The postponed NBA games came on the fourth anniversary of Colin Kaepernickâs very first protest of âThe Star-Spangled Bannerâ before an NFL preseason game. Kaepernick sat through the anthem for his first protest, which he said was to protest racial inequality and police mistreatment of minorities. then famously kneeled during the anthem going forward.
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