NBA players staged a boycott of Wednesday’s three playoff games at Walt Disney World. It was a highly visible protest of a black man being shot by a white police officer seven times in the back on Sunday in Wisconsin.
Jacob Blake’s three children were in his vehicle as he was shot multiple times in front of them in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake’s father reported that his son is now paralyzed from the waist down.
So how did the boycott, which forced the postponement of three games, start?
The Milwaukee Bucks, who normally play their home games about 65 km from the site of the shooting, decided not to leave the locker room for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic.
Boycott statement from Bucks
In detailing why they decided to boycott Game 5, Bucks players Sterling Brown and George Hill read portions of the team statement:
“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. …. Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable…”
More details on the boycott
The Bucks-Magic game was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., but title-chasing Milwaukee’s players didn’t step onto on the court.
In addition to the Bucks’ boycott, the Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets games were boycotted by those teams and postponed on Wednesday.
Furthermore, Thursday’s NBA games could be pushed back due to the impact of the boycott at Disney World.
Support for the boycott
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell and numerous other NBA players tweeted their support for the Milwaukee Bucks.
“WE DEMAND CHANGE! SALUTE @Bucks,” Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell tweeted.
Elsewhere, teams not in the NBA bubble also showed support for the postponed games in front of the shooting.
“We support the league’s decision to postpones the games and strongly reiterate our condemnation of racism and violence,” the New York Knicks said in a statement.
Moreover, the NBA Board of Governors meeting will meet on Thursday, The Associated Press reported. The National Basketball Players Association, a big Black Lives Matter movement supporter, is also scheduled to gather on the same day.
Impact of the boycott
Michael McMann, a law professor and legal analyst, predicted that the boycott will have a lasting impact on the world of sports.
As a result, he tweeted that “this won’t just be about today.”
“It’s now happened,” he tweeted. “NBA players have boycotted games to take a stand. Now that it’s happened, it could happen again. In the NBA. Other leagues. College. The Olympics. Without uttering one word, athletes are more empowered now than they were before.”
In addition to the NBA playoffs, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and the WNBA had games postponed on Wednesday as players protested the Jacob Blake shooting by deciding not to play.