The Milwaukee Bucks boycotting Game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic in protest for Jacob Blake started a domino effect that ended with an emotional meeting between all the NBA players inside the bubble. Reportedly, a frustrated LeBron James left that meeting, followed by the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers after leaning toward cancelling the rest of their postseason runs. In wake of the Bucks’ boycott, the NBA and WNBA postponed the rest of Wednesday’s games. The Milwaukee Brewers, in a show of support to the Bucks, walked off before their game with the Cincinnati Reds, and the Mariners, Padres, Dodgers, and Giants followed suit. Several current and former NFL players spoke out on Twitter in support of the Bucks, and Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll praised the NBA players for taking a stand.
STERLING BROWN: The last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we've seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action. So our focus today cannot be on basketball.
JARED QUAY: That was Bucks' guard, Sterling Brown, himself a victim of police brutality in the state of Wisconsin in 2018, reading part of a statement the Bucks players released after deciding not to play on Wednesday. After the Bucks' decision, the NBA and NBPA decided that all of Wednesday's NBA games would be postponed. That was the first domino that, ultimately, led to a reportedly contentious meeting with all NBA players inside the bubble. LeBron ended up leaving in frustration, followed by the rest of the Lakers and the Clippers. Sources say, in what seems to be a poll, both LA teams voted to leave the bubble and not finish the postseason.
But talks are, reportedly, going to continue today. And the three playoff games scheduled for today look to be in jeopardy. How did we get here? It all started when Milwaukee never took the court for their game 5 match-up against the Orlando Magic, effectively becoming the first NBA team inside the bubble to boycott.
GEORGE HILL: We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable.
JARED QUAY: And that set off a chain of events that dramatically shifted the sports world and has many asking what the role of sports even is in 2020. And the WNBA followed suit.
ELIZABETH WILLIAMS: We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA. And we'll continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues, and look to take collective action.
JARED QUAY: But not before making a powerful statement of their own. The Washington Mystics showed up to their arena wearing shirts that had Jacob Blake's name spelled on the front of it, letter by letter, and on the back, seven bullet hole wounds. And it's not only athletes that are trying to come to grips with senseless violence towards African-Americans.
KENNY SMITH: I think it's best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.
CHRIS WEBBER: We know nothing is going to change. We get it. Martin Luther King got shot and risked his life, Medgar Evers.
We've seen this in all of our heroes constantly taken down. We understand it's not going to end. But that does not mean, young men, that you don't do anything.
JARED QUAY: And you're very wrong if you think the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin is only affecting the NBA. In solidarity with the Milwaukee Bucks, the Milwaukee Brewers walked off against the Cincinnati Reds, leading to the game being postponed. The Mariners, Padres, Dodgers, and Giants all followed suit.
CLAYTON KERSHAW: We made a collective group decision to not play tonight and to let our voices be heard for standing up for what we believe is right.
JARED QUAY: Five of the six Major League soccer matches were also postponed on Wednesday in protest of racial injustice. Both current and former NFL players voiced their support of the Bucks on Twitter. And Seattle Seahawks head coach, Pete Carroll, acknowledged the Bucks and the rest of the NBA for using their voices to take a stand.
PETE CARROLL: I really applaud those guys for taking the night. And but that-- we all know that's not enough. It's just a statement. And the-- what is important, and everybody that's involved knows, is what we do about it and what we keep doing to straighten things out and get things right.
JARED QUAY: A lot needs to be decided in these leagues to see what action they want to take, whether they cancel postseasons entirely, or give players a platform to have their voices heard for underrepresented communities. But I just want to point out how absurd it is that it's fallen all professional athletes to push things forward. This should be the work of our politicians, whose literal job is to make sure everyone has justice and equality.
And I'll leave you with this. The Bucks boycotting their game comes exactly four years to the day that Colin Kaepernick protested during the national anthem. And I know change comes slow. But if not now, then when?