KISSIMMEE, Fla. — After the Milwaukee Bucks’ Wednesday boycott of their playoff game against the Orlando Magic prompted athletes in sports leagues around the country to not play, Thursday’s NBA contests — including the Utah Jazz’s Game 6 matchup against the Denver Nuggets — are “unlikely” to be played, with the rest of the season hanging in the balance, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
The move was in response to the officer-involved shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday in which Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times.
Wojnarowski reported that discussions on continuing the season, which began Wednesday during a large meeting of players inside the NBA’s “bubble” in Orlando, will continue Thursday, with a source telling him, “Everyone is still too emotional. There needs to be more time to come together on this.”
Discussions on continuing season will extend into tomorrow, sources tell ESPN, but appears unlikely the three playoff games on Thursday will be played. "Everyone is still too emotional," one high-ranking source tells ESPN. "There needs to be more time to come together on this."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020
The Utah Jazz are scheduled to play Game 6 of their first-round series against the Denver Nuggets at 2 p.m. MDT on Thursday.
According to numerous outlets, the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers voted during the large meeting to not continue the season, although Wojnarowski said it was more of an informal “polling” rather than a vote.
The Clippers and Lakers voting on perhaps not continuing with the season was considered more of a polling, than a final vote, sources tell ESPN. The resumption of the playoffs remains still up in the air.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020
The Bucks’ boycott first led to the other two NBA games on Wednesday — the Houston Rockets vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Lakers vs. the Portland Trail Blazers — getting postponed, and many teams across sports in the United States soon followed suit.
As several reports surfaced suggesting that the Rockets, Thunder and Lakers were considering not playing, the NBA released a statement confirming that NBA basketball would not be played on Wednesday.
“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 league’s statement read.
Just before 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, more than three hours after their game was scheduled to tip off, the Bucks emerged from their locker room and briefly spoke with reporters before guards George Hill and Sterling Brown read a prepared statement.
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities,” Brown read. “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 seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today can not 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,” Hill read. “We hold ourselves to that standard and in this moment we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement. We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for 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. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
The Milwaukee Bucks ownership group said in a statement that it did not know the players had planned to not play on Wednesday, but that it supports their actions.
“We fully support our players and the decision they made,” the Bucks’ owners said. “Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”
Later, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts released a statement in support of the players’ actions.
“Throughout the season restart, our players have been unwavering in their demands for systemic justice,” the statement read. “This week we witnessed another horrific, shocking and all too familiar act of brutality in the shooting of 29 year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 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.”
In the evening, the Utah Jazz and Gail Miller family released a statement in support of the actions that had been taken.
“We support and join with the National Basketball Association, its teams, the players and the Utah Jazz in condemning social injustice and violence against Black people,” the statement read. “Our family and organization remain fully committed to and focused on building a country that is equitable, just and safe. We also echo Jacob Blake’s mother’s plea to ‘use our hearts, our love and our intelligence to work together to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.’”
The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics began discussing the possibility of boycotting Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals earlier this week in the wake of the shooting of Blake.
Shortly after the Bucks-Magic game was set to start, Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst spoke with reporters outside of the Bucks locker room and confirmed that the team would not be leaving the locker room and that a team statement would be made.
Following practice on Wednesday, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Nuggets coach Mike Malone said that conversations about boycotting had not been had within their teams. Malone added that if his players came to him and said they didn’t want to play, he would support the decision fully.
After the Bucks opted not to play, Utah All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell tweeted, “WE DEMAND CHANGE! SALUTE @Bucks.”
A statement from the Magic read, “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 National Basketball Referees Association also released a statement in support of the players’ decision to not play.
“The NBRA stands in solidarity with our players’ decision to boycott tonight’s games in protest of the continued unjustified killing of Black men and women by law enforcement,” the statement read. “There are more important issues in our country than basketball and we hope this will inspire change.”
A statement from the NBA Coaches Association read, “The NBA Coaches support our players 100%. The restart happened largely because of the platform it provided. The baseless shootings of Jacob Blake and other Black men and women by law enforcement underscores the need for action. Not after the playoffs, not in the future, but now.”