NBA “Hopeful” To Resume Playoffs After Dozens Of Athletes Strike Over Police Brutality
The league postponed all games Wednesday & Thursday after the Milwaukee Bucks staged a protest Wednesday in the wake of the Kenosha shooting.
NBA players have reportedly decided to continue playing the rest of the postseason after the Milwaukee Bucks staged a strike Wednesday night in solidarity with the ongoing Kenosha protests, leading to a ricochet of boycotts from other teams and professional athletes.
The NBA announced Thursday that it is “hopeful to resume games” as soon as Friday. The league said it would hold a video conference, including representatives from the 13 teams based in Orlando, on Thursday afternoon to “discuss next steps.”
According to several reports, NBA players have pledged to return to their scheduled playoff games after meeting on Thursday morning. The league postponed all games on Wednesday and Thursday after the Bucks refused to leave the locker room. The Los Angeles Lakers were also reportedly set to boycott their game Wednesday.
After Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back by police multiple times on Sunday, protests have flared up against police brutality in cities across the U.S. Family attorney Benjamin Crump said earlier this week that Blake is paralyzed from the waist down.
The Bucks released a statement to reporters on Wednesday following their walkout, saying: “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
The NBA collective bargaining agreement bans strikes, which means the Bucks are breaking their own contract to stop playing in protest of police violence. (But this is your reminder that there aren't really illegal strikes, just unsuccessful ones.) https://t.co/c2g07wXspx pic.twitter.com/4MmNSb8bJX— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) August 26, 2020
The Thursday afternoon meeting will reportedly include two players from each team, representatives from the National Basketball Players Association, and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan in a discussion on how the league can best handle social justice issues going forward.
Executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Michele Roberts said in a statement Wednesday: “The Players have, once again, made it clear - they will not be silent on this issue. We stand with the decision of the players of the Milwaukee Bucks to protest this injustice and support the collective decision to postpone all of today's games.”
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All WNBA games on Wednesday and Thursday were also postponed after players from the Washington Mystics decided not to play. The team members wore t-shirts on the court that displayed Blake’s name. The back of the shirts had seven black dots to symbolize the amount of times he was shot by police.
According to ESPN, this is the first time in the WNBA’s history that players have staged a strike. The league has not yet announced when it will resume playing after Thursday.
Following the news of the Bucks taking a stance on Wednesday against racial injustice in the U.S., other NBA players, professional athletes, and leagues follow the NBA’s lead.
Major League Baseball
Following the NBA’s postponement, three scheduled MLB games were postponed Wednesday. The decision came after Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts decided not to play in protest of the shooting of Blake.
The league released a statement Wednesday saying, “We respect the decision of a number of players not to play tonight.”
“Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice,” the statement continued.
MLB games resumed Thursday.
National Football League
Several NFL teams canceled or postponed practice on Thursday, in solidarity with other athletes who are striking. Some teams are using the time to instead meet and discuss racial justice. ESPN reported that some teams made the decision to modify their plans after lengthy discussions with players and leaders.
The Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, Denver Broncos and the Washington Football Team are among the teams that cancelled or postponed practice. The NFL season is set to start on September 10.
Major League Soccer
The MLS decided to postpone the remaining Wednesday night games in solidarity with the protests from both the NBA and MLB. Several players reportedly declined to play before the MLS made its decision.
The league released a statement saying, “We continue to stand with the Black community throughout our country—including our players and employees—and share in their pain, anger and frustration.”
MLS games are scheduled to continue Friday.
Naomi Osaka, two-time major champion and highest-paid woman athlete, was set to play her semifinal match at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, but announced she would not be playing.
In a statement, the 22-year-old said “Before I am [an] athlete, I am a Black woman. And as a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”
At the end of her statement, Osaka hashtagged three names: Jacob Blake, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and George Floyd.
The tennis star agreed to resume playing in the tournament on Friday.