After the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic Wednesday as a response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a shock wave was felt around the NBA and other leagues as players stood in solidarity to not continue playing. All three NBA playoff games were postponed Wednesday, and NBA players and coaches held a meeting that evening to discuss the next steps that should be taken. Players addressed concerns over if they should continue to play or if they should continue to strike to send a strong message to those in power. While nothing has been officially decided yet, the Lakers and Clippers were reportedly among the minority of teams who were pushing to end the rest of the season in protest.
Another meeting is scheduled for the players Thursday morning at 11 a.m. ET, where they will reconvene to figure out what the plan is going forward. While there are concerns that the season may be in jeopardy, there’s optimism that a majority of the players want to continue the playoffs, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
NBA players haven’t made any demands on what they’d like to see happen before they agree to resume play. However, LeBron James reportedly said he wants owners to take more action, and be more involved in creating social change. If LeBron and the Lakers, as well as the Clippers, don’t want to continue playing, though, it will be increasingly difficult to see a world in which the NBA resumes its season without the top two teams in the Western Conference. Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem reportedly echoed that sentiment during last night’s meeting, telling those in attendance that without the Lakers and Clippers, how will the season continue, per Shams Charania.
Players and coaches across the league have spoken with heavy hearts over the last few days in the wake of Blake’s shooting, in which he was shot in the back by a Kenosha police officer seven times while Blake’s children were watching in the car. Earlier Wednesday, Raptors players discussed the possibility of boycotting Game 1 of their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, but with the Bucks staging a walk out, Toronto’s game on Thursday is now unlikely to happen, per Wojnarowski.
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet told reporters on Tuesday that in order to make a stronger statement and bring tangible change, players would have to “put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility.” The Bucks’ decision to not play Game 5 certainly made a strong statement, now the league and its players will have to decide where it plans to go from here.