Yesterday, there were three NBA games on tap as the playoffs have been running like a well-oiled machine. One of the games was between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, who have been battling to determine which advances in the postseason. While the Magic were warming up on the court in preparation for the game, the Bucks were nowhere to be seen. Just minutes before the tip-off should have taken place, there were still no Bucks. Then, the referees disappeared, followed by the Magic. While there had not been any official announcement prior to the game, speculation that the Bucks would boycott the game began to surface and was later confirmed.
That boycott, designed to bring attention to racial and social injustice in the U.S., spilled over to the entire NBA and all three of the games were canceled. It has also gone further, with teams in other sports leagues joining forces with their fellow athletes in a sign of solidarity. This is most likely just the beginning, too.
It wasn’t a coincidence that the Bucks made the first move. They hail from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is only about 40 miles from the city of Kenosha, the location of the latest incident involving law enforcement officers and a black man. This past Sunday, Jacob Blake was shot seven times by police in his back as he was getting into his car. The 29-year-old didn’t appear to be brandishing any sort of weapon, and the handful of officers apparently weren’t enough to control a single man. They fired at him at close range, even though there were three children in the car, and he is apparently now paralyzed.
“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 hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”
Soon after the boycott was announced, the games between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder and between the Portland Trail Blazers and the LA Lakers were called off. Three WNBA games also joined the boycott, and things continued to spiral from there. Before the end of the day, three MLB games and five MLS games had also been canceled. Today’s NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics (the Raptors were one of the first teams to discuss a boycott) and the others could also be canceled.