The NBA season restarted in late July after a three month layoff due to COVID. NBA players promised to continue the dialogue and not serve as a distraction from the issues, despite ongoing protests. Earlier this week, the NBA staged a protest that sparked protests across the entire sports world after the murder of Jacob Blake by police.
Milwaukee Bucks First To Protest
Wednesday evening The Milwaukee Bucks took the first step. Without notifying the league or any league executives, they decided not to take the court for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic. According to reports, The Bucks instead used their leverage to get both the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin on a conference call right there in the locker room.
The NBA “postponed” the following two games scheduled for Wednesday after players decided to join the Bucks on strike. The Rockets, Thunder, Blazers and Lakers all refused to play their nationally televised playoff games.
The WNBA went on strike next. They came to the court wearing shirts with Jacob Blake’s name on the front with seven holes in the back representing the seven times he was shot in the back. After a moment of silence they all left the court.
The Sports World Joins In Solidarity
No one knew this would cause a ripple effect across the entire sports world. NFL players on each team convinced their coaches to cancel practices and instead talk about systematic racism and how the coaches and executives can help the cause.
Over a dozen Major League Baseball games were cancelled Wednesday and Thursday after players decided to walk out. In the New York Mets game against the Florida Marlins Wednesday night, players took the field for a 42 second moment of silence before walking off the field. 42 represents Jackie Robinson’s retired jersey number. Every August 27th is Jackie Robinson Day in The MLB, celebrating him breaking the color barrier in baseball.
22-year-old tennis superstar Naomi Osaka dropped out of the Western & Southern Tournament in Cincinnati on Wednesday in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting. She was scheduled to play in the semifinals on Thursday but decided to opt out late Wednesday night. The tournament postponed all contests scheduled for Thursday after she made her decision.
ESPN reported that the NBA players will be returning to the court on Saturday. Some people criticized the players saying that the strike “wasn’t long enough.”
Early Friday morning NBA executives joined the players in a work stoppage. Instead of going about the regular work day, they got on phone calls with local politicians and legislators. Taking away games now in the middle of the playoffs sent a message to NBA executives that it’s time for them to take a more active role in fighting injustices. Just writing checks isn’t good enough anymore.