UPDATE: NBA players agreed on Thursday not to boycott the rest of the season after forcing the postponement of a slate of playoff games in a protest against racial injustice.
The NBA postponed all three playoff games that had been scheduled on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for Game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic.
By The Associated Press
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Players from six NBA teams decided not to play postseason games on Wednesday in a boycott that quickly reverberated across other professional leagues.
Also called off: Some games in Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the three WNBA contests, as players across four leagues decided the best way to use their platform was to literally step off the playing surface.
Players made the decisions to protest the shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday of Jacob Blake.
Kenosha is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. That city’s NBA team, the Bucks, started the boycotts Wednesday, by refusing to emerge from their locker room to play a playoff game against the Orlando Magic.
“There has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” said Bucks guard Sterling Brown, who joined teammate George Hill in reading a statement on the team’s behalf.
Other games that were not played: NBA playoff games between Oklahoma City and Houston, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland along with three WNBA games, three MLB games and five MLS matches. Two members of the St. Louis Cardinals sat out their team’s game with the Kansas City Royals as well.
The NBA’s board of governors have called a meeting on Thursday to discuss the new developments, said a person with knowledge of the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the meeting plan was not revealed publicly.
The NBA did not say when Wednesday’s games would be played or if Thursday’s schedule of three more games involving six other teams would be affected. NBA players and coaches met for nearly three hours Wednesday night to determine next steps, including whether the season should continue. They did not come to a consensus, a person with knowledge of the meeting told AP.
“We fully support our players and the decision they made,” Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a joint statement after Milwaukee players decided to not take the floor.
Players from Boston and Toronto met Tuesday to discuss boycotting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series, which had been scheduled for Thursday. NBPA officers were part of those meetings, and Miami forward Andre Iguodala — one of those officers— said around 2:15 p.m. that he did not believe a boycott plan had been finalized.
Things apparently moved quickly: Less than two hours later, the Bucks wouldn’t take the floor.
“When you talk about boycotting a game, everyone’s antenna goes up,” Iguodala said. “It’s sad you have to make threats like that — I wouldn’t say threats — but you have to be willing to sacrifice corporate money for people to realize there’s a big problem out there.”
Professional sports has seen both strikes and lockouts in the past, almost always over salary disputes. But this wouldn’t seem to classify as a strike, even though it was initiated by players, since their dispute is not with the NBA. Boycott, meanwhile, is defined as the act of refusing to engage in an action, usually to express disapproval with some condition.