SportsPulse: Following the boycott of Game 5, the Milwaukee Bucks stood united in front of the media explaining why after Jacob Blake's shooting, now is not the time for basketball.
Three NBA playoff games were scheduled for Wednesday, but three playoff games were played in not only a historic day for not only the NBA but also in sports history – four years to the day the former NFL quarterback was played Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem.
The Milwaukee Bucks, to be playing the Orlando Magic in game 5 of their first round at 4:10 pm. ET, decided not to play in protest at the Jacob Blake shooting.
The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets also planned not to play the fifth game of their series, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers also refused to play.
“The NBA and National Basketball Players Association announced (on Wednesday) that, given the Milwaukee Bucks decision not to speak today for Game 5 against Orlando Magic, today's three games – Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers – Postponed. Game 5 of each series will be postponed, "the NBA said in a press release.
Blake, a black man, was shot multiple times in the back by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, 40 miles south of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan.
"We fully support our players and the decision they made," said Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan in a statement. “Although we didn't know beforehand, we would have fully agreed with them. The only way to make change is to shed some light on the racial injustices that are happening before us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand by their side calling for accountability and change. "
NBA players were stunned by the incident, which was captured on video. Anger, sadness, and frustration were evident at press conferences with players this week.
On a historic move, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their playoff game against the Orlando Magic in response to the shooting by Jacob Blake. (Photo: Ashley Landis, pool photo, USA TODAY Sports)
Three games are scheduled for Thursday, and now the league and players will figure out what to do with a restart that is in danger of not being completed. The two parties are supposed to meet at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday in the bladder.
"People are upset and angry and we're just trying to get together and figure out how we can do something," said Jayson Tatum of Boston on Wednesday. "Obviously, people will say, 'Sitting, what is this going to do? "Honestly, if we suspend a game or the rest of the playoffs, we understand how big the impact would be. Everyone needs to talk about it and raise awareness.
"We don't want to just keep playing and forget what's going on in the outside world because it affects us." It affects everyone and we are more than just basketball players. We are human beings. We have these raw feelings. "
The Bucks players later released a statement that read in part, "… In our home state of Wisconsin for the past few days, we've seen the horrific video of Jacob Blake being shot seven times in the back by a police officer, Kenosha and the additional Execution of demonstrators. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, no action has been taken, so we can no longer focus on basketball today.
“When we take the seat and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, put in the maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We adhere to this standard and at this moment we are demanding it from our lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. "
SportsPulse: Clippers head coach Doc Rivers was emotional during his post-game press conference as he addressed his outrage over the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Protests have a history in sport, from Elgin Baylor hosting a game in protest against segregation laws in Charleston, West Virginia, to John Carlos and Tommie Smith raising their fists during the national anthem at the 1968 Summer Olympics.
"As with all boycotts, all attention is drawn to the oppression and the oppressor," Louis Moore, associate history professor in Grand Valley state, told USA TODAY Sports. "It makes us wrestle with what's going on so we can't say, 'Hey, I'll see Giannis, then I'll see the Rockets game and then the Lakers." ; I had to queue for six hours and can no longer do it. " I'll do it. Like everyone else, I have to deal with what's going on in Wisconsin. There is a real fear that we will be shot anytime soon. That is the power that we see here. "
Specializing in African American, sports, and gender history, Moore wrote a book entitled "We'll Win the Day: The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Athlete, and the Pursuit of Equality."
"The potential of the Milwaukee Bucks owners supporting the players lies in where the power of this boycott lies," he said. "You can get property on your side. Giannis can get Nike on their side and they can put real pressure on cities." that organizations or unions are starting to do things. "
When Milwaukee's George Hill asked Monday if they should play on the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, the momentum for game suspension began to pick up.
“When we came here, we took all the focus off the topics. But we are here. It is what it is, ”said Hill. “We can't do anything from here. … lives are taken as we speak day after day. There is no consequence or responsibility for it. That needs to change. "
On Tuesday, Fred VanVleet from Toronto asked, "What are we ready to give up?"
On Wednesday, Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters that Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors players scheduled to play in Game 1 of their second series on Thursday are considering not playing.
The bucks did not speak to warm up before the game. Magical players left the field just before the start. The three umpires and the alternate umpire stayed on the court a few minutes after the magic left and then retired to their locker rooms.
The arena workers began removing name tags from the players' chairs in the bench area around 4:18 pm. NBA TV showed a video of Magic players, coaches and staff leaving the arena and boarding a bus at 4:42 pm.
Chris Paul from Oklahoma City and Russell Westbrook from Houston left a room in the arena, and then players from both teams left the arena.
The Magic issued a statement that read, "Today we are united with the NBA Office, the National Basketball Players Association, the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the league, condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unjustified use of force by the police against coloured people . "
Buck's security guard Sterling Brown was the victim of police brutality in Milwaukee in 2018.
With all the talk about players not playing, Moore was surprised that the NBA didn't postpone games until players protested.
Some players had concerns about resuming the season for social justice reasons, and feared they would put the sport ahead of more important issues. But they believed – and some still do – that it was worth using their voice in the bladder.
But Moore believes having the spotlight that the bubble provides is valuable.
"Your job now is to take advantage of this platform where you have to help others," said Moore. “I go back to 1968 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1968 Olympic Games). He regrets not leaving because if you are not there you will no longer have a platform. When you are not there, no one is talking to you. You will not be asked about these things and you will lose this platform. "
NBA boycotts are rare. In 1959, Famer Elgin Baylor's Los Angeles Lakers Hall boycotted a game to protest hotel segregation in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1961, Celtics players refused to play a game in Lexington, Kentucky when a restaurant did not allow Bill Russell to sit inside. NBA players also considered boycotting the 1964 All-Star Game, but that was about union issues, not social justice.
Players also considered boycotting games after racist comments from former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling were released in 2014.
Follow USA TODAY Sports NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
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