Washington, 27 August 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The NBA announced a postponement of three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their game in protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man in Wisconsin.
The Bucks’ decision on Wednesday to not leave their lockerroom shortly before the start of their playoff Game 5 against the Orlando Magic comes days after police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shot Blake multiple times in the back near his children.
The Bucks’ boycott amid the NBA playoffs – one of the largest US sporting events of the year – is a major escalation in the NBA player’s protests against police brutality and systematic racism.
“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action,” the Bucks players said in a statement. “So our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable,” they added.
The NBA said that three games, previously scheduled for Wednesday night – Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers – will be postponed.
Each series was at Game 5 and will be “rescheduled,” the NBA said in a statement.
Later on Wednesday the WNBA players also announced they would not play in the Wednesday evening’s games in support of their NBA colleagues.
“Some things are bigger than basketball. The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up,” Alex Lasry, the Bucks’ senior vice president said in a tweet.
Following the boycott NBA stars, including Lebron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, voiced their support for the Bucks and demanded racial justice.
Blake was shot in the back multiple times as he got into a vehicle. The incident was caught on camera. Blake’s young children were in the back seat of the car, attorneys said.
Wisconsin’s attorney general said Wednesday that Blake told police he “he had a knife in his possession,” and a knife was recovered in the vehicle.
Blake remains in critical condition and may be paralysed for life from the waist down, his attorneys said. Parts of his colon and intestines were removed.
The shooting has sparked protests and unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, around 45 minutes south of Milwaukee.
Peaceful protests in Kenosha have at times spilled over into burning property and ransacking stores as anger boils over at the shooting, which comes in the wake of a summer filled with demonstrations across the country against policy brutality and racism.
The NBA and its players has led US sports leagues in protesting police brutality this year as part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Following the killing of George Floyd, the NBA put the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on its courts and players, and players often wear shirts with the images of black people killed by police.
“We’re the ones getting killed, we’re the ones getting shot,” Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers, a black man, said during a press appearance on Tuesday. “It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”