[guest post by JVW]
Amidst a resumed season taking place in a bubble environment and with plummeting television ratings, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team has apparently decided to sit out tonight’s scheduled NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Here’s part of Sports Illustrated’s report:
The team’s decision comes as a response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot by police multiple times in the back Sunday in Kenosha, Wisc.
Prior to Wednesday’s tipoff, which was scheduled just after 4 p.m. ET, the Bucks did not come out to the court to warm up. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, top NBA executives went outside Milwaukee’s locker room around 4 p.m. ET.
At around the time of the game’s initially scheduled start, the Magic returned to their locker room. According to The Athletic’s Joe Vardon and Shams Charania, the Magic are waiting to hear officially from the league as to what will happen.
“We’re not coming out for a while,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. “There will be a team statement.”
Bucks SVP Alex Lasry tweeted his support of the team, stating “I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
The Blake police shooting appears to have strongly impacted countless players and coaches in the Orlando bubble.
Bucks guard George Hill, who left the team’s locker room wearing a “Change the Narrative” shirt, told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears that the team is not playing in light of the Blake shooting. “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Hill said.
Hill said Monday he regretted coming to the NBA bubble amid all that is going on in society. “We can’t do anything [from Orlando],” Hill said. “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.”
The Bucks said in a statement Monday that, “We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community.
Theoretically, one squad deciding unilaterally not to play a game should count as a forfeit, so the Bucks who entered the game with a 3-1 games lead in the best-of-seven series should find their lead cut to 3-2 when and if the next scheduled game commences on Friday. But something tells me that the NBA is going to allow this game to be rescheduled, in the dictates of social justice.
On a small scale I suppose this move “brings awareness” to the issue of Jacob Blake’s shooting, but I don’t really see it accomplishing anything in a broader sense. And it would be a riot (probably literally) if Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded by shutting down the league for the rest of the season, suddenly expressing fears about COVID-19 infections in the Sunshine State. We survived for three months without the NBA; rest assured most of us can survive until the 2020-21 season begins.
UPDATE: ESPN, a television partner of the NBA, reports that all three NBA playoff games scheduled for tonight are to be “postponed.”
UPDATE II: Shams Charania of The Athletic has a pretty fascinating report:
Sources: The Lakers and Clippers have voted to boycott the NBA season. Most other teams voted to continue. LeBron James has exited the meeting.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 27, 2020