The Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to boycott their playoff game following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the team’s home state has cascaded into a wave of similar protests across the American sports scene.
After the Bucks’ decided not to play, the NBA announced it would postpone Game 5 of three different playoff series — Bucks vs. Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers.
Within hours, three WNBA, five Major League Soccer and three Major League Baseball games were called off as athletes acted in solidarity with the Bucks’ players.
Blake, a Black man, was shot in the back by police on Sunday as he tried to enter his vehicle in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His shooting became the latest incident to prompt outrage nationwide over racial injustice and police brutality.
Strikes are not allowed under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, which means the Bucks players have broken their own contract in order to protest racial injustice and police violence.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Bucks players’ said they are “calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. ”
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” they said in a statement.
They asked the Wisconsin Legislature to “reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.” They also encouraged people “to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
Former President, Barack Obama, also tweeted his support of the Bucks.
“I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.”
Kenny Smith, one of the hosts of Inside the NBA, walked off the set of the show on Wednesday night to show solidarity with the Bucks and other NBA players.
“As a black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight,” Smith said. “And figure out what happens after that.”
Atlanta Dream player Elizabeth Williams who represented the six teams slated to play on Wednesday, announced that WNBA players are standing in solidarity with “our brothers in the NBA” and also would not play.
The ESPN2 broadcast showed players from the six teams scheduled to take the court in locked arms and kneeling while wearing shirts spelling out Jacob Blake’s name.
The WNBA announced that the three games scheduled for the evening had been postponed.
Three MLB games were postponed: Cincinnati Reds- Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants.
The Bucks conversed with the family of Jacob Blake before the boycott, said Patrick Salvi Jr., a lawyer representing the Blake family.
“They told Jacob’s parents that they were behind them 100%,” Salvi told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “They expressed their sympathies and empathies for what has occurred.”
Blake’s parents, Julia Jackson and Jacob Blake Sr., had asked the Bucks to use their voice to “accomplish peace” and “encourage people to protest in nonviolent ways,” Salvi said.
When the season restarted in July, every NBA player kneeled during the national anthem, wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts and the words “Black Lives Matter” were painted on all courts.
“We understand what’s going on in society right now and we’re using this NBA platform as the players, as the coaches, as organizations to continue to stand strong on that,” LeBron James said last month. “It’s a good start.”
Throughout the season, many players dedicated their post-game interviews to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was shot multiple times in March by the police.