The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 in protest, and other NBA teams are joining in.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the Bucks were in serious discussions to boycott Game 5 in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, and multiple reports had surfaced this week detailing how distraught and discouraged players were within the NBA bubble upon realizing their voices were not being heard.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews reported the Bucks did not come out for warmups, and Charania added that NBA officials were outside the locker room, where Bucks players were adamant about not playing in Game 5.
The Magic, meanwhile, were on the court for warmups but left for the locker room with 3:56 on the warmup clock before tipoff time. Wojnarowski made it official the Bucks were boycotting Game 5. Magic players reportedly wanted to play, but left for the locker room when it became clear Milwaukee was boycotting.
According to Charania, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are officially boycotting Game 5 of their first-round series as well. He later reported the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers would be doing the same for their Game 5 matchup Wednesday night. Wojnarowski reports each Game 5 will be rescheduled.
The Milwaukee Bucks and several other NBA teams are making their voices heard
While it may have been naive to expect social justice messages on the backs of jerseys, “Black Lives Matter” being painted on the court and kneeling during the national anthem to prompt radical or immediate changes in American society, NBA players were understandably devastated by yet another unnecessary police shooting of a Black man.
They felt their voices have not been heard, and therefore, more drastic measures needed to be taken that could not be ignored. There were concerns that stepping back onto the court would distract sports fans and other viewers from the very real issues plaguing the United States right now, so this move is a response to remind the American public that change is necessary in this country.
In terms of consequences, ESPN’s Bobby Marks lays them out here:
Whether this move extends to the remaining games of the week remains to be seen as the players continue to debate the pros and cons of such a serious decision. There had already been talks between the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics about boycotting Game 1 of their second-round playoff series, which is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Charania reports the players will meet Wednesday night to determine their next steps, and the season is reportedly “in jeopardy.” The Bucks participated in a conference call with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, per Wojnarowski.
More on this situation as it develops.