In the wake of the most recent police shooting of an unarmed civilian, NBA players have taken their protests to the next level. Until today, many NBA players used their large Twitter profiles to bring attention to the unfair justice in regards to police who shoot people for little to no reason. This year, the NBA began to allow players to feature ‘social justice’ phrases on their jerseys to help call attention to this issue. On Sunday, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times while his children were in the car. Blake’s crime was walking away from police and not respecting them enough. He was not armed. Fortunately, Blake survived and remains in the hospital.
The Milwaukee Bucks came into the playoffs as the #1 seed in the eastern conference of the NBA, and are beating the Orlando Magic 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs. Today’s game was supposed to tip off at 4:10 PM. After coming out for warm-ups before the game, the Bucks team boycotted the game and left. The Orlando Magic rejected the forfeit victory, effectively joining the Bucks in protest.
In a statement, the Bucks players said:
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand for the officers to 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 next two playoff games scheduled for today were also boycotted by the players. The NBA has officially said that the playoffs games have been postponed, indicating that they will be played at some later date.
Among the players scheduled to play later in the evening was Lebron James of the LA Lakers. James made his thoughts on the police shootings of unarmed men clear in a Tweet:
“FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT”
The NBA was not the only sport to participate in the protest, as players in teams across the famously more conservative MLB boycotted playing as well. Several MLB teams refused to play Wednesday night, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward sat out as well (though his team played), and Dominic Smith became the first Met ever to kneel in protest during the national anthem.
At the time of this writing, it is not clear when or if tomorrow’s NBA playoff games will be played or how long the games will be postponed for, and it is not clear what the league-wide response will be from other sports as well. We will follow this story as it develops.