Since video of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting Jacob Blake in the back seven times emerged on Monday night, NBA players have spoken out, not just in continued calls for justice but in questioning whether they need to do more and go further with their actions after the latest shooting of an unarmed Black man.
George Hill of the Bucks wondered aloud if it was a mistake coming to the Bubble and playing basketball, allowing for a distraction from the continued focus on police violence against Black Americans. The Raptors and Celtics had a number of players speak on that same issue as well, floating the possibility of a boycott as their second round series is scheduled to begin on Thursday.
Then, on Wednesday, the Bucks made a major statement when they refused to emerge from their locker room for Game 5 of their first round series with the Magic, boycotting the game in protest. What that led to was a surreal scene, in which the Magic walked off the floor just before the horn sounded for warmups to end, and by the time tipoff was set to begin, it was only the four referees standing by the scorers table in an otherwise empty arena.
NBA TV handled it all tremendously, with Sam Mitchell and Jim Jackson in particular speaking powerfully about what this moment means and applauding the Bucks for taking this stand. On Twitter, NBA stars also voiced their support for what the Bucks did, and the Rockets and Thunder followed suit in choosing to boycott their Game 5 later in the day — the Lakers and Blazers are reportedly leaning towards doing the same.
LeBron James didn’t mince words with where his frustration level is with the state of police brutality and racism in American, and Jamal Murray and Donovan Mitchell, who have starred in a tremendous on-court duel in the Nuggets-Jazz series, echoing each other and standing together in support of justice.
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
WE DEMAND JUSTICE!!!
— Jamal Murray (@BeMore27) August 26, 2020
Former Buck John Henson, who had the police called on him in an incident of racial profiling while he was at a jewelry store during his tenure in Milwaukee, was proud to see what his former team was doing, as were so many others in the league.
.@Bucks power. Black power.
Nothing but respect for Milwaukee’s players and coaches. #BlackLivesMatter
— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) August 26, 2020
This shit bigger than basketball! Whoever don’t understand that is part of the problem.
— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) August 26, 2020
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) August 26, 2020
— Maurice Harkless (@moe_harkless) August 26, 2020
Bigger than Basketball 🙏🏿🙏🏿
— Jerian Grant (@JerianGrant) August 26, 2020
We Demand Change. We so sick of this!!!
— Robert Covington (@Holla_At_Rob33) August 26, 2020
— LaMarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) August 26, 2020
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) August 26, 2020
I swear its not that hard to understand that WE as human beings just want to be treated equal … and if u don’t understand that then im sorry for your ignorance …
— Mikal Bridges (@mikal_bridges) August 26, 2020
Respect @Bucks keep being that voice we all need.
— Jared Sullinger Sr. (@Jared_Sully0) August 26, 2020
Bucks senior VP Alex Lasry also issued a statement supporting the team’s decision.
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
— Alex Lasry (@AlexanderLasry) August 26, 2020