MILWAUKEE: The decision of Milwaukee Bucks players to go on strike minutes before their NBA playoff game Wednesday sent shockwaves through the world of sports and the entire country.
The team was heading into the fifth game of the playoffs against the Orlando Magic when the players decided to not walk on the court to protest Sunday night’s police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“There has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball," Bucks players said in a statement.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted Game 5 of their First Round series vs. the Orlando Magic this afternoon.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The team provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/ul5rMlitlS
Shortly after, the NBA decided to postpone the other two games scheduled for that night: Houston vs. OKC and Portland vs. the Lakers.
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
Other sports leagues quickly followed the NBA’s lead. Three Major League Baseball games were called off as athletes acted in solidarity with the Bucks' players. Like the NBA, baseball’s reaction began with players from a Milwaukee team.
A statement from the Milwaukee Brewers said, “The video of the shooting of Jacob Blake is deeply disturbing and raises many of the same questions we have been asking related to social injustice and racism in our communities. Once again, we are faced with images of a horrific incident that show what appear to be inexplicable and excessive force inflicted upon a Black individual. It stirs emotions of anger, confusion and great sadness at a time when we need healing and lasting change. We pray for a full recovery for Jacob, and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
Soon after the Brewer’s decision Wednesday, the Mariners and Dodgers also chose not to play.
Statement from Major League Baseball: pic.twitter.com/jyDdZJ7fN7— MLB (@MLB) August 27, 2020
Other sports leagues also Tweeted and issued statements Wednesday about game cancellations and their positions on the controversy.
The league canceled three games Wednesday after a protest by the players of the Washington Mystics and a decision by those athletes not to play that evening.
The WNBA announced that the three games scheduled for this evening have been postponed. Information regarding rescheduling of the games will be provided when available.— WNBA (@WNBA) August 26, 2020
Multiple teams canceled practices scheduled for Thursday and the league retweeted a statement from Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
The league also issued a formal statement:
The NHL issued a statement but did not cancel or postpone any games.
"As protests in both the United States and Canada in recent days have focused attention upon racial justice for the Black community, the NHL stands with all those who are working to achieve a racially just society, and against all those who perpetuate and uphold racism, hatred, bigotry and violence. We share the sentiments expressed by our players and Clubs in their calls for justice, and we encourage everyone to use their platforms and privilege for systemic change. In our own sport, we will continue to do better and work diligently toward culture change throughout hockey and endeavor to be mindful of our own shortcomings in this process." - NHL
Other notable voices
Brands, politicians, celebrities and executives also publicly supported the actions of the players and teams.
And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted. This shit is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE https://t.co/cJxOj1EZ3H— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 24, 2020
Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/4LBUGArLb3— adidas (@adidas) August 27, 2020
Nike said it “stands in support of NBA and WNBA players and athletes across the sports community in their response to the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake. We remain committed to addressing the issue of systemic racism experienced by the Black community.”
I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values. pic.twitter.com/rUGETgAt7P— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 27, 2020
This moment demands moral leadership. And these players answered by standing up, speaking out, and using their platform for good.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 27, 2020
Now is not the time for silence. https://t.co/hF3dIb7Hde
“If they want to protest, I don’t think we care. If they want to say, 'we’re not going to play more games,' I don’t think that's a position that you’re going to see us speak out on one way or another," Marc Short, Vice President Pence's chief of staff, said to CNN.
As of Thursday afternoon, the NBA had not officially said if or when the playoffs would resume. However, at mid-day, ESPN journalist Adrian Wojnarowski Tweeted that sources had said games should start again by the weekend, possibly as early as Friday.
The resumption of playoff games could come as soon as Friday, but there is expected to be a return to this season by the weekend, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/A2PazNKDhy— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020