N.B.A. Postpones Playoff Games After Milwaukee Bucks Boycott


    N.B.A. players have been speaking out against racism and police brutality, but athletes have wondered whether that would be enough.

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The N.B.A. postponed multiple playoff games on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their matchup with the Orlando Magic in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Wisconsin.

    The postponement affects first-round games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers, and between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. The games, including that of the Bucks and Magic, will be rescheduled.

    The announcement came after the Magic were seen walking out of the arena and boarding their bus during what should have been Game 5 of their first-round series against the Bucks.

    The Magic later released a statement: “Today we stand united with the N.B.A. 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 boycott was an extraordinary escalation of how players have demonstrated for social causes this season, with numerous athletes speaking out against systemic racism and police brutality.

    “We demand change,” Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said on Twitter, writing in all caps. “Sick of it.”

    Players from the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors said Wednesday they were considering also boycotting the first game of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night, and that some had raised the possibility of leaving the N.B.A.’s restricted site at Walt Disney World near Orlando, Fla., where the league is playing out its season in quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Raptors Coach Nick Nurse told reporters on Wednesday that the players were trying to demand more action, rather than simple awareness. “That’s really what they want. I think there’s enough attention and there’s not quite enough action,” he said.

    Blake was shot several times by police in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday while entering his car with his children in the back seat. According to Blake’s family attorney, Blake is now partially paralyzed.

    “We tried to be peaceful, kneeling,” Marcus Smart of the Celtics said on Tuesday. “We tried to protest. And for us, we tried to come out here and get together and play this game and try to get our voice across. But it’s not working, so obviously, something has to be done. Right now, our focus shouldn’t really be on basketball.”

    Two N.B.A. teams sitting out a playoff game to demonstrate for a social cause has virtually no precedent. On Tuesday, the N.F.L.’s Detroit Lions canceled practice to protest Blake’s shooting.

    Multiple W.N.B.A. players, such as the Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery, skipped their seasons to focus on social justice efforts. George Hill, a guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, told reporters on Monday: “We shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”

    Doc Rivers, the coach of the Los Angeles Clippers, called Blake’s shooting “sickening” on Tuesday, after the Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.

    “Just watching the Republican convention, and they’re spewing this fear,” Rivers said. “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 who were denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you keep doing is hearing about fear. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”

    But he suggested that players not boycott, citing the situation of Donald Sterling, who was the owner of the Clippers when the N.B.A. banned him for life in 2014 after a recording of him making racist statements emerged. At the time, the Clippers were set to face the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs and the teams had discussed a boycott.

    “My message is go after your dreams,” Rivers said, adding “When we were little kids, in the backyard by ourselves and we had these dreams about winning a championship, Donald Sterling was not in our dreams and neither were these cops.”

    SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com

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