Black Lives Matter: Bucks, Clippers, Lakers—U.S. Pro League Teams Boycott Games In Solidarity For Jacob Blake
In 2016, American Football star Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the US National Anthem as an act of protest for the Black Lives Matter movement. Exactly four years later, on 27 August 2020, NBA team Milwaukee Bucks refused to go out of their locker room just before their Game 5 Quarterfinals match against the Orlando Magic.
The team's decision was ultimately influenced by the recent shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot at seven times by a responding officer while he was trying to open the door of his car where his children were seated. Miraculously, Blake is alive and conscious but is paralysed from the waist down.
The shooting incident took place in Kenosha, a neighbouring city to Milwaukee, the Bucks' hometown. In their official statement, Bucks are demanding for measures that will address police brutality and for Jacob Blake to receive the justice he rightfully deserves.
"When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement," the statement reads. Bucks is just one game away from securing an Eastern Conference semifinal slot, but that win wouldn't have mattered to the players. "Our focus today cannot be on basketball," they said. Because of the team's decision, all three games that were scheduled last Wednesday were postponed for the time being.
This isn't just about basketball. We are not just basketball players. And just because we are basketball players doesn't mean that’s our only platform. We need to understand that when most of us go home we still are Black... We need to understand that this moment is so much bigger than us.
Following suit was two Los Angeles teams, LA Lakers and LA Clippers. Lakers forward and NBA star Lebron James took to Twitter to express his utter disgust towards the incident. He, alongside other players from LA reportedly voted to boycott the entire NBA Bubble 2020 season.
Play-off matches today, 28 August 2020, are also postponed. The league is hopeful for games to resume the following days, with the decision expected to come out after the scheduled meeting later today between players, governors, and officials.
Meanwhile, players from Women's NBA team Washington Mystics entered the court wearing shirts that have seven holes in them, representing the seven gunshots that were fired by the Kenoshan police officer. Upon stepping on the court, the team refused to play while other teams decided to do the same. This prompted the rescheduling of games set for Wednesday night.
"This isn't just about basketball. We are not just basketball players. And just because we are basketball players doesn't mean that’s our only platform. We need to understand that when most of us go home we still are Black... We need to understand that this moment is so much bigger than us," said Mystics' Ariel Atkins.
When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.
— Milwaukee Bucks
Naomi Osaka, who is currently sitting at the world's no.10 spot, opted to not play in her semifinals match in the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament as a form of protest for Jacob Blake and the Black Lives Matter movement. Osaka, whose father is from Haiti, has been very vocal of her activism for BLM movement and has taken to Twitter to express her decision regarding the game. "Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman," she said. "As a Black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis."
For the U.S. baseball league, Major League Baseball (MLB), Wisconsin-based team Milwaukee Brewers decided to boycott their game versus Cincinnati Reds. Players of the Reds also refused to play on the court. Shortly afterwards, the next scheduled game between Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres was also postponed due to the players' unified decision to not push through with the game. The last game of the day, Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants was also cancelled. Today, the Mets versus Marlins game was postponed after all players took a moment of silence on the field and then proceeded to exit the arena.
Currently, protest and rallies are being held in Wisconsin and nearby cities clamouring for immediate government action against police brutality and racial bias.
Read Also: A Look At Black Lives Matter: Racism Abroad And In The Philippines