All three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday have been postponed, with players around the league choosing to boycott in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Called off are games between Milwaukee and Orlando, Houston and Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland. The NBA said all three games would be rescheduled.
Other professional sports leagues followed suit. The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds reportedly decided not to play as scheduled on Wednesday, and WNBA teams are not playing three regular season games in Bradenton, Florida.
The dramatic series of moves began when the Bucks refused to take the floor for their playoff game against the Magic.
The teams were set to begin Game 5 of their series shortly after 4 p.m., with the Bucks needing a win to advance to the second round.
Players had been discussing boycotting games after Blake’s shooting. More discussions among players were scheduled Wednesday, presumably on how — or if — to go forward with the season.
“We fully support our players and the decision they made,” Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a joint statement.
“Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”
Jeanie Buss, the owner of the Lakers, wrote on Twitter: “I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough.”
I was excited to see us play – and hopefully close out our series – tonight. But I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough. #JusticeForJacobBlake #WeHearYou
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) August 26, 2020
There are three other playoff games scheduled Thursday. It was unclear if they would be affected.
The National Basketball Referees Association said it “stands in solidarity with our players’ decision to boycott tonight’s games” and the National Basketball Players Association tweeted that the “revolution will be televised.”
— NBPA (@TheNBPA) August 26, 2020
“Today we stand united with the NBA 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 Magic and its owners, the DeVos family, said in a statement.
Social activism has been a major part of the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World.
The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the arena courts, and players are wearing social justice slogans on their jerseys and kneeling for the national anthem.
“We’re the ones getting killed,” Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is black, said in an emotional postgame speech on Tuesday night.
“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. And 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.”
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