The NBA has postponed all three of today’s finals series games the Milwaukee Bucks squad refused to take to the court, in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
It’s a monumental decision, and one of the strongest protests against racial injustice the league has ever seen.
Blake, a Black man, was shot up to seven times in the back by police officers on Sunday in the Wisconsin city of Kenosha. His lawyer says it’s unlikely he’ll ever walk again.
Footage of the incident sparked outrage across America, a nation still reeling from the death of George Floyd under the knee of a White police officer.
Players from the Milwaukee Bucks squad, based just 65km north of Kenosha, stayed off the court before today’s scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic.
Veteran basketball journalist Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted their strike was in direct response to Blake’s shooting.
The Bucks players made this decision in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, ultimately deciding that they wouldn’t leave the locker room for the start of Game 5 against Orlando. https://t.co/COJ6E0aJLj
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020
Footage from the league’s Orlando coronavirus bubble shows an empty court when Game 5 of the series was slated to start, while behind-the-scenes video shows staff packing away equipment.
Game balls are being put away, as the Bucks decide to boycott game 5 against the Magic. pic.twitter.com/Cy32q2CJH7
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) August 26, 2020
In a subsequent statement, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced all three of today’s games – Milwaukee vs. Orlando, Houston vs. Oklahoma City, and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland – will be rescheduled.
The NBA and the NBPA today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – MIL-ORL, HOU-OKC and LAL-POR have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.
— NBA (@NBA) August 26, 2020
League legend and Los Angeles Laker LeBron James, who has previously expressed his anger at footage of police shooting yet another Black man, spoke freely in support of today’s player strike.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
Wojnarowski reports today’s protest could have broader ramifications for the rest of the season, and players have been invited to sit down with league officials.
But this isn’t really about basketball, and it never was.