The NBA on Wednesday postponed several playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks chose to boycott their matchup against the Orlando Magic in protest of the police shooting of, a 29-year-old Black man in Wisconsin.
The league, in a statement, said three games — the Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers — would be rescheduled at a later date.
Alex Lasry, the senior vice president of the Bucks, tweeted his support of the team’s decision. “Some things are bigger than basketball,” he said. “The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
NBA players have been outspoken about issues of systemic racism and police brutality following the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, but many had wondered how returning to the court would affect their efforts.
The Magic, in a statement, said it stands “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.”
Blake’s family’s attorney, Ben Crump, called the boycott “a powerful statement” and applauded athletes who speak truth to power and “motivate the positive change we want to see in the world.”
Blake was shot multiple times in the back by police in Kenosha on Sunday, leaving him paralyzed, according to the family’s attorney. The shooting sparked protests in Kenosha and throughout the country.
Several NBA stars, including LeBron James and Donovan Mitchell, expressed support for the Bucks on social media. “F*** this man,” James tweeted. “We demand change. sick of it.”
The issue of police brutality is deeply personal to Bucks guard Sterling Brown, who in 2018 was tackled, tased and arrested by police officers for parking in a handicap spot. Brown sued the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department following the incident. He was never charged in the incident and recently rejected an offer to settle the lawsuits.
Multiple officers involved were suspended after bodycam footage of the arrest was released.
“The city of Milwaukee wanted to give me $400,000 to be quiet after cops kneeled on my neck, stood on my ankle, and tased me in a parking lot,” Brown wrote in the Player’s Tribune in July.
“I want more than just money,” Brown wrote. “I want cops to show respect and to be held accountable when they step out of line, especially in the neighborhoods they are supposed to serve and protect every day. If they kill a man, I want them to receive the same punishment that another guy on the street would.”
Earlier this week, several NBA players were asked about potential boycotts. “Is it really doing anything at the end of the day, if we’re going to sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we’re going to have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility,” Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet told reporters.
Bucks point guard George Hill on Monday openly questioned if the playoffs should continue in light of the shooting. “We can’t do anything [from Orlando],” Hill told ESPN on Monday. “First of all, 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.”