What You Need To Know:
For the second day, the NBA canceled the playoff games scheduled to take place Thursday. Milwaukee Bucks players, protesting the latest police shooting of a Black man, in a neighboring Wisconsin town, announced they would not play Wednesday’s game against Orlando.
As videos began to surface after the Sunday afternoon shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha, Wisconsin police, discussions began among players quarantined in the NBA’s Orlando “bubble.” Players, including LeBron James, admitted they were focused on issues bigger than a NBA championship.
“I got half of my brain locked in on the playoffs and the other half locked in on how I can help Black people become greater in America. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Tuesday night, reports surfaced that players from various teams met to talk about what was happening on the streets of the country. Los Angeles Clippers head coach, Doc Rivers, put matters into perspective with a powerful statement after a playoff win over Dallas. The son of a Chicago policeman said,
“… What stands out to me is just watching the Republican convention, viewing this fear. All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I’m so often reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We got to do better.”
Just before Wednesday afternoon’s scheduled playoff game between the Bucks and the Magic, it was announced that Milwaukee refused to play to protest the Jacob Blake shooting and racial injustice. Milwaukee Bucks Guard George Hill told The Undefeated, “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice.” That was followed by the official postponement of Wednesday games by the NBA. Additional meetings were held Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday afternoon, the NBA announced the postponement of Thursday games as well.
In solidarity with their brothers, WNBA players also refused to play Wednesday. They released a statement to ESPN, “After speaking with representatives from teams playing tonight, as well as our WNBPA leadership, the consensus is to not play in tonight’s slate of games and to kneel, lock arms and raise fists during the national anthem,” Atlanta Dream center Elizabeth Williams said in a joint statement on ESPN. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action.
“What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change. “
The Atlanta Dream were scheduled to take on the Washington Mystics, followed by the L.A.Sparks vs the Minnesota Lynx, with the final game between the Connecticut Sun and the Phoenix Mercury. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Englebert issued a statement supporting WNBA players decision not to play.
Major League Baseball also joined the protest. The Milwaukee Brewers stood in support of the Bucks by not playing their scheduled game against the Cincinnati Reds. Following the Brewers and Reds lead, the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres canceled their game as did the L.A. Dodgers and S.F. Giants, in an already coronavirus-shortened season.
Professional tennis player Naomi Osaka also joined the protest, withdrawing from her semi-final match in New York Thursday. And Major League Soccer postponed all but one match.
Why You Need To Know:
Years ago, Lebron James was assailed when he announced he was taking his talents to Miami. He understood his value. Others did not. Cleveland fans cried injustice as they burned the James jersey.
This week professional athletes have demonstrated they understand their value and chose to use it to bring attention to real injustice on the streets of America.
There are millions of people who still don’t know what happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, especially the hundreds gathered in Charlotte or on the South Lawn of the White House. But canceling games on the courts and fields of America, now they have their attention. Those calling for athletes to shut up and play may never get it. The athletes taking a knee or walking off a court are using their heads and hearts. They realize the value of their talent and believe they can make a difference.
This is not the first time the Milwaukee Bucks have taken a stand against police brutality. This past January, the team stood with rookie Sterling Brown after Milwaukee Police tased him following a confrontation over a due parking violation.