NBA players strike for social justice
The Milwaukee Bucks made an eye-opening statement on Aug. 26 when the team refused to play game five of the playoffs against the Orlando Magic. This took place minutes before tip-off. The reason for the No.1 ranked team in the Eastern Conference to walk out is simple. NBA teams are using the playoffs to bring awareness to racial injustice, following the shooting of Jacob Blake.
The team gathered in the tunnel, and players Sterling Brown and George Hill spoke on behalf of the Bucks.
“In the last four days in our hometown of Wisconsin, we have seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha.” Brown said
The NBA community has taken to Twitter to show that the world wants a “change” to make African Americans feel safer in their own skin.
“It's exhausting being black," Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said. "The white guys have been amazing, but they don't live with the pressure that these young black guys are going through every day.”
The Bucks were the first to shed light on the issue. Then the NBA gave the statement, “The National Basketball Association today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks decision to not take the floor today, Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”
The NBA has supported the Black Lives Matter movement since the restart of the league post suspension due to COVID-19. Players from every team have embroidered quotes on the back of their jerseys such as “Justice now,” “Say their names,” and “Equality.”
The players in the Bubble, which is the enclosed area in Orlando, Florida where the remaining NBA teams are staying during the playoffs, held a meeting later that night to discuss the next steps. They allowed coaches to take part in the discussion before players discussed amongst themselves in private. During the meeting, it was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, that the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers both agreed to cancel the rest of the postseason. The remaining 11 teams voted to continue the playoffs.
Lebron James spoke up during the conversation, stating that team owners were not doing enough. Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard agreed with James by taking a firm stance to cancel the rest of the playoffs. Emotions ran high as there were reported signs of frustration due to players not seeing eye-to-eye on the matter.
Yahoo Sports broke the silence the next day and stated that it was “in their best interest to finish out the season” as NBA basketball fans breathed a sigh of relief that there would still be a championship series.
Although the season is still going to continue, the Milwaukee Bucks took a stand for change and ended up making one. Before leaving their locker room on Aug. 26, Bucks players reportedly had an in-depth conversation with Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, which then led to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers calling a session of the State Legislature urging lawmakers to vote on a legislative package that includes police reform.
By Javier Sarache Jr.