Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to boycott their playoff game after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the team’s home state escalated into a wave of similar protests across the US sports scene.
Shortly after the Bucks decided to not play, the NBA announced it would postpone Game 5 of three different playoff series that includes Bucks vs. Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers.
In a span of hours, three WNBA, five Major League Soccer and three Major League Baseball games were called off as athletes acted in solidarity with the Bucks’ players.
Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot in the back by police on Sunday as he tried to enter his vehicle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This shooting became the latest incident to spark outrage nationwide over police brutality and racial injustice.
The Bucks game against the Orlando Magic was initially scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Disney World in Orlando. The Bucks did not show up from their locker room before the scheduled tip.
Some NBA players were asked about the possible boycott over the last 24 hours. Many of them said it was being discussed.
Strikes are banned under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, meaning the Bucks players revoked their own contract in order to protest racial injustice and police violence.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Bucks players’ said in a statement that they are “calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable.”
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings,” they said in a statement.
“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
The Bucks players called on the Wisconsin Legislature to “reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform.” They also encouraged people “to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
Former US President Barack Obama tweeted his support of the Bucks. The tweet reads:
“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.”
After the Bucks’ decision, the team received a flood of support from many in the NBA community, including its senior vice president Alex Lasry.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Lasry wrote on Twitter. “The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
The Bucks owners said that they did not know about the decision beforehand, but said they “would have wholeheartedly agreed with them.”
“We fully support our players and the decision they made,” Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a statement. “The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”