Wednesday night LeBron James was adamant that the NBA not continue the playoffs and walked out of the players’ meeting after casting his vote. LeBron’s frustration — with the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin — was evident for everyone to see on Twitter.
Miami’s veteran sage Udonis Haslem then stood up and asked if there could be a playoffs without LeBron and Kawhi Leonard? Haslem then talked about the platform, the megaphone the players had with the bubble and games, the opportunity they had to be sure their voices were heard.
LeBron and other Lakers players met several times late into the night in the Orlando bubble and had changed their position — it was in the best interest of all the players to finish the season, so long as there was a plan going forward to push social justice action — something first reported Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and echoed by Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers players met as a group a couple of times since last night’s meeting, including this morning before they went into the group meeting with the rest of the teams. https://t.co/EQRi9fwhhB
LeBron James expressed a desire to go home during the players’ meeting Wednesday but he really wanted to play — he wants to hang a banner in Staples Center — but only if there was a better plan on the social justice front going forward, reports the team at The Athletic. The Bucks had blindsided everyone with their boycott decision — the Orlando Magic had been out warming up, expecting a game — and the aftermath of that was a lot of raw emotions but no cohesive set of steps to better use the NBA’s bubble platform to spur action.
The impact of kneeling during the anthem, wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts, even talking about Blake or other shooting victims in interviews, had faded and was becoming just part of the game. As players formulated a revised plan to promote social justice going forward, LeBron and the Lakers came around to the importance of the playoffs continuing.
LeBron and the Lakers agreeing to play was critical to keeping the NBA bubble going. A playoffs without LeBron would have rung hollow, and not just on the court (where LeBron’s Lakers have looked like the best team in the West the last few games). The NBA needs his voice, his presence to make this work — the NBA is a league built on stars and he is the biggest basketball star in the world. His voice carries.
Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my @IPROMISESchool kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That’s why your vote is @morethanavote ✊? #BlackLivesMatter
(LeBron has taken a lot of actions and put his money where his mouth is, something Jared Kushner seemed not to grasp in his comments earlier in the day.)
As uncoordinated as it might have been, the Bucks’ boycott of a game, leading to the cancellation of NBA games (which spread to the WNBA and MLB) had the desired effect — social justice was back on the front page. Even President Trump was talking about it (even if he was just using it to pander to his base). LeBron’s voice on these matters will again be front-page national news, when he chooses to address it.
LeBron has earned a voice and a presence in the NBA space no other player can match. He understands the responsibility that comes with it.
How he uses that voice going forward the next few weeks will be interesting to see.
Wednesday night LeBron James was adamant that the NBA not continue the playoffs and walked out of the players’ meeting after casting his vote. LeBron’s frustration — with the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin — was evident for everyone to see on Twitter. Miami’s veteran sage Udonis Haslem then stood up and asked if
Former interim UFC champion Colby Covington is never one to let a moment of controversy pass without injecting himself into the conversation. He did just that on Wednesday night, when he criticized NBA, MLB, and other professional athletes for boycotting sports in protest of the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.The protests came on the heels of the shooting of Blake, a black man, that was shot in the back seven times by a Kenosha Police Department officer that had been attempting to arrest him. The incident that led to Jacob Blake’s shootingOfficers had been called to the scene because of a domestic incident, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which quickly took over the investigation from the Kenosha PD following the incident. The officers on scene attempted to arrest Blake and used a Taser to try to stop him, according to Department of Justice investigators. Blake then walked around his vehicle and leaned into the driver’s side door, at which point an officer that had grabbed Blake’s shirt fired his weapon seven times into Blake’s back.The officers rendered aid until Blake could be transported to a hospital. Blake has undergone several surgeries and remains in critical condition, paralyzed from the waist down. How the NBA and professional sports protests developedThe professional sports protests surrounding the shooting began on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for Game 5 of their NBA playoff game with the Orlando Magic. The Magic players then joined the Bucks in a show of solidarity, which led to the NBA postponing the two other playoff games that had been scheduled for Wednesday.The Bucks players tipped a domino of protest from other athletes across the United States.WNBA players took the court in T-shirts with seven red marks on the back, signifying the seven times that the officer shot Blake in the back. That led to WNBA officials cancelling the three games scheduled for Wednesday.Major League Soccer canceled five games. The Western & Souther tennis tournament postponed Thursday’s matches after tennis star Naomi Osaka pulled out of the tournament in protest.NBA analyst Kenny Smith, a former NBA player, walked off the set of TNT’s “Inside the NBA” during a live broadcast in solidarity with the players.The protests were a tipping point for players, who had seen not only Blake’s shooting, but also felt the cumulative effect of the officer involved shootings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and other Black Americans.* * * Kenny Smith walks off the set of « Inside the NBA » in solidarity(Video courtesy of NBA on TNT)* * * Colby Covington’s rant aimed at NBA players and Major League BaseballCovington did not make a direct statement on the shootings themselves or the change the players hoped to encourage, but appeared to take umbrage with the manner of the protests and the criticism of police officers. »Oh wow, you postponed your games?! » Covington wrote. « Wanna prove you’re really about change? Quite your multi-million dollar jobs and soft privileged lives playing a kid’s game, take a massive pay cut and perform the toughest job in America. Become cops!!!! »https://twitter.com/ColbyCovMMA/status/1298801640338751489?s=20He tagged the NBA, Major League Baseball, and NBA superstar LeBron James, who is also a UFC fan.James had earlier tweeted, « F— this man!!!! We demand change. Sick of it. »https://twitter.com/KingJames/status/1298721240748711936On Thursday, James added, « Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW! For my I Promise School kids, kids and communities across the country, it’s on US to make a difference. Together. That’s why your vote is more than a vote. BlackLivesMatter »https://twitter.com/KingJames/status/1299022257029816320 Dana White and the UFC honored George Floyd after his deathWhile Covington was critical about the approach the NBA players and other professional athletes took to protest the recent police shootings, the UFC has not removed itself from the calls for change to injustice in America.At UFC Vegas 1 on May 30, the promotion’s first event in Las Vegas after it re-opened sports in America in Florida, the fight promotion honored George Floyd. Floyd was a black man that died during a police arrest in Minneapolis, when an officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.The UFC opened its broadcast with a graphic showing George Floyd, displaying the years of his birth and his death. https://twitter.com/ufc/status/1266901456818331650?s=20Following the event, when asked about the decision to honor Floyd on the broadcast, UFC president Dana White stated, “Because we should. What happened was horrible and it’s something really affecting this country right now and the world. There’s riots going on everywhere, across the world, right now. It was the right thing to do.”* * * Dana White addresses the George Floyd tribute and the Riots(Subscribe to MMAWeekly.com on YouTube)
Earl Thomas’ release may have had more to do with who he fought with rather than the fight itself.
In solidarity with other professional sports leagues protesting against racial injustice and the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., the NHL will not be playing any of its playoff games on Thursday, according to multiple reports.
The Buffalo Bills have benched their own team reporter for the remainder of training camp for violating the team’s media policy, according to Tim Graham of TheAthletic.com. Additionally, the team’s three-person marketing staff has collectively quit the organization just two weeks before the scheduled start of the regular season. Chris Brown, employed with the organization [more]
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Laura Stockton sounds perfectly happy to ride buses around Germany if it means she gets to play professional basketball. The 23-year-old daughter of retired Utah Jazz great John Stockton spent the past year-plus rehabbing an ACL injury that ended her collegiate career at Gonzaga. Stockton has signed her first professional contract to play for Herner TC in the German league.
Phil Mickelson chose to make his PGA Tour Champions debut at Ozarks National this week so he could avoid a two-week break right in the middle of his preparations for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. If he was going to show up, Mickelson thought, he might as well win. The wire-to-wire victory made Mickelson the 20th player to win on the 50-and-over-tour in his debut, not to mention gave him some much-needed confidence after a missed cut at The Northern Trust knocked him from the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
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