The NBA season stood still Wednesday as the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their first round Eastern Conference playoff series over the police shooting of African-American man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The boycott forced the league to scrap the Western Conference matchups between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers against the Portland Trail Blazers.
”Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors,” the Bucks players said in a statement explaining their boycott.
”Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
Thursday’s games have been placed in jeopardy as a result of the move.
Players from the remaining teams in the playoffs will meet again and owners will also meet to discuss the boycott and their next steps.
LeBron James: We demand change, sick of it
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and the NBA Players Association backed the Bucks’ decision not to play.
”WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” James said in a tweet.
”The players have, once again, made it clear – they will not be silent on this issue,” NBAPA Executive Director Michele Roberts said.
The Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors had discussed the idea of a boycott of their second round Eastern Conference series due to the Jacob Blake shooting.
Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse said the option of a boycott to protest the incident was “on the table.”
“Boycotting the game has come up to them to demand a little more attention,” Nurse said. “It is ongoing discussions. I think it is one idea on the table. There are some other ideas on the table as well.”
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers voted to abandon the NBA season in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Others teams voted to continue.
Their vote to end the season came at an emergency meeting of all the teams left in the NBA playoffs in Orlando.
Players support Bucks’ movement
Several NBA players aired their support for the Bucks.
Dwayne Wade (@DwyaneWade) said: Proud of our players! @Nba
Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell): WE DEMAND CHANGE! SALUTE @Bucks
Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung): Proud to be apart of this League… even more today ! WE WANT CHANGE
Jeff Teague(@Teague0): S/o to bro @George_Hill3 and the @Bucks
Josh Hart(@joshhart): WE WANT CHANGE!!
DeMar DeRozan(@DeMar_DeRozan): This shit bigger than basketball! Whoever don’t understand that is part of the problem.
Ja Morant(@JaMorant): respect
Kenny Smith walks off set in solidarity with Bucks
TNT analyst Kenny Smith walked off the set of “NBA on TNT” Wednesday in solidarity with the Bucks.
“I think the biggest thing now – as a Black man and a former player – I think it’s best for me to not be here tonight,” Smith said before leaving.
Colleagues Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal appeared stunned at Smith leaving. Programming resumed afterwards. (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)