LeBron James before Game 4 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers decided not to play Game 5 over the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Image: Getty Images
By Keith Wagstaff2020-08-26 22:36:09 UTC
Kneeling wasn’t enough. So NBA players walked off the court.
The Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their game with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday to protest police violence after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The teams were set to play Game 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Soon after the Magic players left the court, the NBA announced the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Portland Trailblazers, and Los Angeles Lakers would not play their Wednesday games as well. The Magic later released a statement in support of the walkout.
For Bucks forward Sterling Brown, it’s personal. Two years ago, after coming out of a Walgreens, Milwaukee police officers stepped on his ankle and tased him over a bad parking job. One of the officers on the scene later joked about it on Facebook.
After video of the arrest was released, he refused to settle with the city.
“I want more than just money,” he wrote last month in The Players’ Tribune. “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.”
Bucks and Magic players did not comment on the protest. Alex Lasry, SVP of the Bucks, tweeted in support of the team’s players.
Some things are bigger than basketball. 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
— Alex Lasry (@AlexanderLasry) August 26, 2020
Current and former NBA players, including LeBron James, shared their frustration and support on Twitter.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
This shit bigger than basketball! Whoever don’t understand that is part of the problem.
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) August 26, 2020
I swear its not that hard to understand that WE as human beings just want to be treated equal … and if u don’t understand that then im sorry for your ignorance …
— Mikal Bridges (@mikal_bridges) August 26, 2020
We Demand Change. We so sick of this!!!
— Robert Covington (@Holla_At_Rob33) August 26, 2020
The walk-off came a day after Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers shared an emotional message about police violence with the press. The NBA said the Wednesday games would be rescheduled.
On Wednesday evening, President Barack Obama shared his support for the NBA players and coaches:
UPDATE: Aug. 27, 2020, 4:47 p.m. AEST Tennis star Naomi Osaka has now joined the walkout, the world no. 10 refusing to play her Western & Southern Open semi-final match scheduled for Thursday.
“[B]efore I am an athlete, I am a black woman. And 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,” Osaka wrote in a statement posted to Twitter.
“I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction. Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.”
Hours after Osaka’s announcement, ATP Tour announced the entire Western & Southern Open will also suspend play on Thursday. “As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States,” the association wrote on Twitter. The tournament will resume on Friday.