NBA Postpones 6 Playoff Games as Players Speak Out, Strike After Jacob Blake's Shooting
The NBA has announced the postponement of at least five playoff games planned for Wednesday and Thursday. The decision, announced in a statement on Twitter, was prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks' decision to boycott their game against the Orlando Magic following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23 in Kenosha, WI. Blake was shot multiple times outside his car with his three children still in the vehicle, reportedly leaving him with a severed spinal cord and shattered vertebrae, paralyzed from the waist down.
"In light of the Milwaukee Bucks' decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today's three games — Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trailer Blazers — have been postponed," the NBA stated on Wednesday. "Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled." The NBA later released a statement announcing the postponement of Thursday's games, adding that the league is "hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday," following a conference call between NBA players, team governors, NBA Players' Association reps, and more league entities.
As of Wednesday morning, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics players were discussing boycotting tomorrow's Eastern Conference semifinals, but it was the Bucks, whose stadium is 40 miles north of Kenosha, who made the first decision not to play. According to ESPN, the Bucks did not appear on the court before the 4 p.m. ET start time. The Magic took pregame shots but left the court with just under four minutes until tipoff. The referees left the court soon after.
In a statement to The Undefeated, Bucks guard George Hill said, "We're tired of the killings and the injustice." Later in the night, player Sterling Brown read a statement to the press in behalf of the team, saying: "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. Despite the overwhelming plea for change there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball."
Those feelings were echoed across the league, which has shown public support of the Black Lives Matter movement this season. In a press conference on Aug. 25, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, "All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. We're the ones getting killed. We're the ones getting shot. We're the ones that we're denied to live in certain communities. We've been hung. We've been shot." Changes need to happen in the police force, he continued. "My dad was a cop. I believe in good cops . . . We're trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else."
After news broke of the Bucks' boycott, LeBron James tweeted, "F*CK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT."
Early reports suggested that the rest of the season was in jeopardy. While the NBA not commented on those rumors, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that players have decided to resume the season.