Kenny Smith walked off the Inside the NBA set.
While the Milwaukee Bucks were scheduled to take on the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series, the Bucks kicked off a league-wide strike after choosing to boycott this game in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha. Joining the players in their demonstration was Kenny Smith, who didn’t have the heart to appear on TNT’s Inside the NBA.
Smith walked off the set of Inside after all three NBA playoff games scheduled today were postponed, citing his desire to support the players amid their fight for social justice.
Kenny Smith cited his status as a former player as the reason he opted out
Smith made his name as a player with the dominant Houston Rockets in the middle of the ’90s, but he’s known to a younger generation of fans as the straight-forward man next to the comic foils of Charles Barley and Shaquille O’Neal. Smith hasn’t been shy about speaking his mind on issues like this when given a pulpit, and his actions on Wednesday confirm that he is not going to be silenced anytime soon.
With growing concern that the season might not end up finished due to the growing frustration inside the bubble, Smith’s departure is a sign that the league is in a state of flux right now. We’ll get some more clarity as to how the league will handle this in the coming days.
Smith’s decision had to weigh heavily on him, but he subscribed to the Bucks’ notion that standing up for what you believe in during these trying times can help draw attention to your cause. Smith’s decision to walk off the air was by no means performative, as you can hear in his voice how this whole situation has touched him.