NBA, MLB, WNBA players boycott games in protest of police shooting of Jacob Blake
Multiple professional sporting events were postponed Wednesday night as players announced they would boycott the games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin.
Shortly after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their Wednesday afternoon NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic, the league postponed two other games scheduled for Wednesday night. The WNBA followed suit about two hours later, announcing that its three games scheduled for Wednesday evening would be postponed as well. All the games will be rescheduled.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds also decided to boycott their Major League Baseball game scheduled for Wednesday night. "With our community and our nation in such pain, we wanted to draw as much attention to the issues that really matter, especially racial injustice and systemic oppression," the players of both teams said in a statement. The Seattle Mariners' game against the San Diego Padres was postponed as well.
Bucks players Sterling Brown and George Hill delivered a statement on behalf of the team later in the day. "The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities," read Brown, who himself faced unwarranted physical force from police in 2018. "Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball."
"We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake, and demand the officer be held accountable," continued Hill. "For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin state legislature to reconvene after months of inaction, and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality, and criminal justice reform."
On Sunday, a white police officer in Kenosha, Wis., shot Blake in the back seven times in front of his children as he attempted to get into his vehicle. The shooting followed a tumultuous summer as the country erupted into mass protests over multiple killings of Black people by police, including George Floyd of Minnesota and Breonna Taylor of Kentucky.
According to multiple outlets, all NBA players were invited to join a meeting Wednesday night to discuss how the league would proceed. The boycotts followed increased protest and expressions of frustration from players, who have been residing in an isolated "bubble" in Orlando, Fla., since the NBA resumed its season in July. (It had previously been suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) Coaches, players, and referees have been kneeling during the national anthem, and many players have worn Black Lives Matter shirts ahead of games. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics have also discussed a boycott of their scheduled Thursday night matchup.
After the Bucks' decision Wednesday, many players and other league figures expressed their support on social media, including LeBron James, who tweeted, "F— THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT."
The Bucks' Hill had discussed the Blake shooting on Monday, during a postgame press conference. "We shouldn't have even came to this damn place, to be honest," he said. "I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we're here, so it is what it is. We can't do anything from right here, but I think definitely, when it's all settled, some things need to be done. I think this world has to change. I think our police department has to change. Us as a society has to change. And right now, we're not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken, as we speak, day in and day out, and there's no consequence or accountability for it, and that's what has to change."