According to Yahoo Entertainment, the Bucks decided not to participate in its playoff game against the Orlando Magic Wednesday night as an act of protest. “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks player George Hill told ESPN’s Marcus J. Spears.
Blake is the latest victim of police violence when he was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer on Sunday and reportedly paralyzed. It’s significant that the Bucks are going on strike, considering they represent Wisconsin, the state in which Blake was shot.
NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the news that the Bucks were going on strike. They were scheduled to play Game 5 of their first-round playoff series at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, which was set to air on NBA TV. However, the Bucks never took to the court to warm up. The Magic warmed up on the court but then returned to their locker room. Neither team was present when the game was set to begin.
Reports of a strike have been surfacing all week, although it was never clear which team would make the first demonstration. Players like Fred VanVleet only hinted at a strike via a press conference on Tuesday. “I was pretty excited,” VanVleet said when he described his team, the Toronto Raptors, making it to the playoffs. “And then we all had to watch Jacob Blake get shot yesterday. So that kind of changes the tone of things and puts things in perspective so that’s really kind of all that’s been on my mind.”
The Bucks seem to have support from their organization as a whole.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry tweeted. “The stand taken today by the players and (the organization) shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
Three other playoff games are scheduled for Thursday. It’s not certain how these games will be affected. The NBA did announce, however, that two other playoff games scheduled for Wednesday are postponed. “Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled,” the NBA tweeted.
So far, the NBA has been a sports league that’s more receptive to Black Lives Matter protests. Since the restart of the 2019-20 series in “bubble” stadiums — due to the coronavirus pandemic — players have worn messages on their jerseys like “Black Lives Matter” and “How Many More.” In Orlando, the Black Lives Matter words are also printed on the court itself.
Protests over police shootings have continued to boil across the country as people continue to seek justice for people like George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police in May and Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville, Kentucky cops in March.