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NBA Calls Off Playoff Games Amid Boycott Over Jacob Blake Shooting

Shooting of unarmed Black man by police sparked several nights of protests

All of Wednesday’s NBA Playoff games have been canceled in response to the decision by the Milwaukee Bucks to boycott their game in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, by police over the weekend in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“The NBA and the NBPA today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – MIL-ORL, HOU-OKC and LAL-POR have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled,” the league said in a statement.

The Bucks were set to play the fifth game of its first-round series against the Orlando Magic. The Magic were warming up on the court, but Bucks players never showed up. The game was supposed to tip off at 1 p.m. ET. The Magic have since left the court. On Tuesday, it was reported that other NBA teams in the bubble, including the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors (both are set to meet in the second round) were considering boycotting games.

The team’s owners released a statement on Wednesday night, saying, “We fully support our players and the decision they made. Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”

Alex Lasry, a senior vice president with the Bucks, wrote on his personal Twitter account: “Some things are bigger than basketball. The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”

Former president Barack Obama also voiced his support for the NBA players, tweeting, “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.”

On Sunday, Blake was shot in the back by a police officer seven times while walking away from them after breaking up a fight. Blake reportedly is paralyzed by the gunshot wounds, his family’s attorney told the Associated Press.

Fellow NBA players in the bubble including the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell championed the Bucks’ decision to raise awareness of Blake, whose shooter has yet to be identified by the Kenosha PD.

There are two more NBA playoff games scheduled on Wednesday. The Athletic’s Shams Charania is already reporting that both the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have also decided to boycott their upcoming game later Wednesday.

This is a developing story. More to come…