The NBA and WNBA did something the NFL failed to do…demand justice and took matters into their own hands.
Three days after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin—just 45 minutes south of where the Milwaukee Bucks play and practice—Bucks players held a strike in lieu of Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic, leading to a postponement of all playoff games scheduled for Wednesday.
“We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” George Hill told The Undefeated.
“The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association today announced that 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 Trail Blazers — have been postponed,” the NBA said in a statement. “Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”
The Bucks game against the Orlando Magic was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Disney World in Orlando. The Bucks did not emerge from their locker room before the scheduled tip. The game broadcast on NBA TV reported the players sat out in protest.
Several NBA players were asked about the possible boycott over the last 24 hours. Many said it was being discussed.
Strikes are banned under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, which means the Bucks players broke their own contract in order to protest racial injustice and police violence.
In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Bucks players’ said 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.”
They called on the Wisconsin State 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.”
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul commended the Bucks for taking a stand.
“I commend the Bucks — and now all NBA teams suspended their games today– for stepping up and participating in the dialogue about these issues, and making their voices known,” Kaul said during a news conference on Wednesday.
“The Bucks have frankly done more to address these issues than Robin Vos or Scott Fitzgerald have done. And so I applaud them for stepping up and playing a leadership role in the debate.”
Representing the six teams slated to play on Wednesday, Atlanta Dream player Elizabeth Williams announced that WNBA players are standing in solidarity with “our brothers in the NBA” and will also not play.
The ESPN2 broadcast showed players from the six teams scheduled to take the court in locked arms and kneeling while wearing shirts spelling out Jacob Blake’s name.
The WNBA announced that the three games scheduled for this evening have been postponed.