The NBA has postponed all three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday (Aug. 26) after several players went on strike over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The Milwaukee Bucks were first to refuse to play their scheduled game against the Orlando Magic.
“The past four months we’ve witnessed multiple injustices regarding the African American community,” the Bucks said in a team statement. “Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.”
The statement goes on to speak about Blake being “shot in the back seven times” by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and demonstrators being shot during a protest against police brutality on Tuesday (Aug. 24).
“There has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball. When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”
In closing, the team demands that the officers involved in shooting Blake be held accountable, and that the Wisconsin State Legislature reconvene “after months of inaction” and take measure to accurately address police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform. The statement also encouraged everyone to vote on Nov. 3
The Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted Game 5 of their First Round series vs. the Orlando Magic this afternoon.
The team provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/ul5rMlitlS
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
LeBron James also took to Twitter with a message demanding change.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
It’s unclear if Thursday’s games — between the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, and the L.A. Clippers vs. the Dallas Mavericks — will be postponed. Wednesday’s games between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets had to be rescheduled, as well as the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Portland Trail Blazers. The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors discussing a potential boycott, ESPN reports.
TNT’s Kenny Smith walked off set in a show of solidarity. “I think the biggest thing now as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just— not be here tonight.”
Incredible TV moment as Kenny walks off pic.twitter.com/CsMTL08x4c
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) August 26, 2020
Fellow TNT commentator Chris Webber got emotional while speaking about the players decision to strike. “I’m here to speak for those that are always marginalized. Those who live in these neighborhoods where we preach and tell them to vote and walk away,” said the retired NBA player.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 26, 2020
The NBA players’ refusal to take the court comes a month into the restart of the NBA season, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Players have been living in the NBA-created “bubble” in Florida as a precautionary measure to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Blake, a 29-year-old father of three, was left paralyzed after being shot in the back at close range by a Kanoga, Wisconsin police officer last Sunday. He was breaking up an altercation at the time.
Multiple protests have been held in Kanoga since the shooting.
Three people were shot, two fatally, during a protest on Tuesday. Video footage from the incident shows a white man shooting at a crowd before casually walking by throngs of police patrol cars with a semi-automatic hanging at his side. The shooting suspect, Kyle Rittenhouse, was arrested in Illinois on Wednesday. He is being held without bond.