Bucks Boycott NBA Playoff Game
When the 4:10 p.m. start time arrived for Wednesday’s Game 5 of the Milwaukee Bucks-Orlando Magic NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff game arrived, the players did not.
The Bucks remained in their locker room, sending a message that they would be boycotting the game in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. earlier in the week.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry told Associated Press.
Blake, who is African-American, was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha police officers as he tried to return to his car. His three sons, ages 3, 5 and 8, watched from the car as their father was shot.
Though he survived, one bullet hit Blake in the spinal cord. He is paralyzed and is not expected to ever walk again.
Demonstrations have taken place in Kenosha every day since the shooting. On Tuesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white man, was arrested in Antioch, Ill. and charged with intentional homicide.
During Tuesday’s protests, three people were shot. Two died and one is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Witnesses allege that Rittenhouse was the shooter and although they told local law enforcement this on the scene, Rittenhouse was allowed to leave by police.
The Bucks weren’t the only NBA team discussing a boycott of the playoffs. The defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors were the first to raise the possibility of not playing their next game.
Players from the Raptors and the Boston Celtics, Toronto’s scheduled second-round opponents, met on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a boycott.
“It just feels like we’re stuck,” Raptors Cameroonian-born forward Pascal Siakam said during a Zoom call. “It feels like things are not changing. It feels like we’re not doing anything productive, basically. That’s how it feels.
“Those things hurt. I don’t care where you’re from . . . just seeing that and just knowing that every day it happens and it feels normal.
“Just seeing Black men being shot every day, that hurts, man.”
Raptors coach Nick Nurse admitted that a boycott similar to the decision the Bucks made remained a distinct possibility.
“I’m trying to give them a forum to talk as much and often as I can,” Nurse said during his Zoom media availability. “I’m trying to respect their priorities, and also give them some of my own personal thoughts.”
The Raptors are all-too familiar with mistreatment of blacks by police. Last year, as they won the NBA title on the road against the Golden State Warriors, an Oakland Sheriff’s Deputy assaulted Masai Ujiri, Toronto’s Nigerian-born GM, as he was attempting to join the celebration from courtside.
The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder also informed the NBA that they’d be boycotting their game on Tuesday. Ultimately, the league opted to cancel all three of Thursday’s scheduled games.
With no game to call, broadcasters Jim Jackson and Sam Mitchell, both of them former NBA players and Mitchell the onetime coach of the Raptors, began discussing their own encounters with law enforcement and growing up black in the United States.
Jackson admitted that he’d had “the talk” with his son about what to do if he’s ever pulled over by the police.
Mitchell acknowledged being pulled over by police just three weeks ago and getting harassed until a white bystander pointed out to the officers who Mitchell was.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, whose club along with the Bucks are among the favorites at online sports betting sites to win the 2020 NBA Finals, made an impassioned plea following their Game 5 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday.
“All you hear is (USA President) Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear,” Rivers said. “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot.
“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad. Like, I should just be a coach. I’m so often reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We got to do better, but we got to demand better.”