Players and coaches across the NBA were condemning both the storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump and the decision to not charge the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, with protests before and even during several games.
A few players wanted to take things a step further.
After Wednesday’s win over the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George said he would have been in favor of shutting down the NBA:
Paul George: "I would have been all for the league to shut down. I think this is something that definitely should have been addressed but there's a fine line because it does give people some positivity to watch games...but I definitely would have been all for [NBA] shutting down"
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) January 7, 2021
George was joined in his opinion by teammate Marcus Morris Sr., who was appearing in his first game of the season due to a lingering knee injury.
From NBC Sports:
“I think it happened so fast that it was one of those things where we just made a decision as a whole just to take a knee. But my personal opinion, that wasn’t enough. I don’t think we should have even played. But we did, and we came together, and we thought taking a knee was appropriate.
“That wasn’t brought up. I think guys were already in the mode of playing. But if it was my decision, I wouldn’t have.”
The precedent for an impromptu shutdown of the NBA as a protest is well established. The NBA playoffs were paused for a day after players on the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play in the wake of the Blake shooting, followed by the rest of the league.
The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat looked on the verge of repeating history when they exited the floor ahead of their game early Wednesday. Instead of refusing to play, however, they decided to kneel before the game and release a joint statement protesting the treatment of Black people compared to the muted response to the Trump supporters by Capitol police.
The Bucks also reportedly considered another wildcat strike in protest of the decision to not charge the officer who shot Blake, but were pushed to play by Blake’s father, Jacob Blake Sr., according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
[Giannis] Antetokounmpo said the team got a message from Jacob Blake’s father that the family wanted them to play and to use their platform, which the league’s Most Valuable Player said helped push them to think of a different method of demonstration.
Also against shutting down games was Warriors forward Draymond Green, who said he didn’t think more strikes were the answer via the Los Angeles Times:
“There’s always this cry on ‘Cancel the NBA game. Protest the game. Don’t play,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “But if we’re going to protest these games and not play, everyone in America has to be on the same [wavelength]. Oh, the NBA canceled the game and didn’t play but everyone else just goes to work? I mean that’s not the answer in my opinion. The NBA is doing what the NBA can. We speak up, we do all the things everyone has been doing. But at some point we need lawmakers to change laws.”
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