ORLANDO – The NBA postponed Wednesday’s slate of playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their game against the Orlando Magic to protest a police shooting over the weekend in Wisconsin.
“We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks guard George Hill told The Undefeated of Milwaukee’s decision not to play.
The Bucks and Magic were scheduled to tip off shortly after 16:00 ET, but the Bucks did not take the court. After their boycott became official, the four other teams set to play in Game 5s on Wednesday weighed the possibility of a boycott before the NBA postponed the games.
“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. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled,” the NBA announced late Wednesday afternoon.
The players had a meeting Wednesday night to determine their next steps and whether or not to play Thursday, but ESPN reported no decision was reached.
Sources also told the network National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul of the Thunder, vice president Andre Iguodala of the Heat, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Bucks player Kyle Korver were among those who spoke. Earlier in the day, NBA TV reported that some players are contemplating leaving the NBA bubble near Orlando.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The Bucks refused to take the floor before warm-ups and remained in the locker room as the time for tip-off came and went.
While the Magic players were on the floor, ready to begin the next game of the Eastern Conference first-round series, NBA officials gathered at the Milwaukee lockerroom.
ESPN reported that NBA officials were there to inform the Bucks of the ramifications of not playing the game. And in the lockerroom, the Bucks were trying to reach the Wisconsin attorney general, Josh Kaul, by phone, The Athletic said.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Alex Lasry, the Bucks’ senior vice president, tweeted. “The stand taken today by the players and (organization) 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 boycott is the Bucks’ response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man shot in the back by police officers Sunday. Video shows Blake, trying to get into his automobile, with an officer pulling Blake’s white T-shirt, then firing several shots at close range into his back.
Blake’s father, also named Jacob Blake, told ABC News that he was told his son is paralyzed from the waist down.
Athletes in other sports praised the boycott.
“Respect to the guys in the Bucks locker room,” tweeted twins Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots. “Taking a stand for what they believe in and for justice!”
“I think it’s an enormous stand,” Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader said, per Fox Sports Wisconsin. “It’s more than sports … This is a time where we need to, really, not stay quiet and show and empower our voices.”
The Orlando Magic issued a statement Wednesday afternoon indicating the organization’s support for Milwaukee’s decision.
STATEMENT FROM THE ORLANDO MAGIC AND THE DeVOS FAMILY pic.twitter.com/jRZJmo1mq4
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) August 26, 2020
“Today we stand 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 unwarranted use of violence by police against people of color,” the statement read.
Meanwhile in Major League Baseball, the Brewers and Cincinnati Reds agreed not to play Wednesday night’s game in Milwaukee. Two other baseball games were postponed, too: the Seattle Mariners at the San Diego Padres, and the Los Angeles Dodgers at the San Francisco Giants.
The WNBA postponed its three-game Wednesday night schedule at Bradenton, Fla.: Washington Mystics-Atlanta Dream, Los Angeles Sparks-Minnesota Lynx and Connecticut Sun-Phoenix Mercury.
Five MLS games were postponed: Atlanta United at Inter Miami, Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas, Los Angeles FC at Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders at Los Angeles Galaxy and Portland Timbers at San Jose Earthquakes. One MLS game was completed, with host Orlando City defeating Nashville SC 3-1.
In the NHL, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said there were no plans to postpone Wednesday night’s playoff games.
“I don’t expect the League to initiate a game stoppage,” Daly said. “Obviously, our Players are free to express themselves in any manner they feel is appropriate.”
Field Level Media via Reuters