In the days since police in Kenosha, Wisconsin repeated shot Jacob Blake in the back, NBA players have called into question whether being in the Bubble and continuing to play games is the right thing to do while police violence towards Black Americans continues in spite of protests and calls for reform.
Players on the Raptors and Celtics noted the possibility of a boycott taking place, with the two teams discussing the matter together ahead of their second round series that is scheduled to tip off on Thursday night. The Milwaukee Bucks also had discussions internally about sitting out a game in protest, as Mike Budenholzer noted the team had conversations about what actions they can take, given the shooting took place about 35 miles from their home arena in Milwaukee.
During Bud's pregame interview @LoriNickel mentioned the Detroit Lions skipping practice yesterday to protest the Jacob Blake shooting & comments from Fred VanVleet about potentially boycotting & asked what conversations the Bucks have had about taking further action. His answer: pic.twitter.com/CwrrnWQ4k5
— Matt Velazquez (@Matt_Velazquez) August 26, 2020
On Wednesday, the Bucks never emerged from their locker room ahead of Game 5 as the Magic warmed up, and as the clock counted down to tipoff, Orlando’s team walked off the floor and returned to their locker room as well. When the horn sounded for the game to begin, it was only the four referees on the court, as both teams stayed in their locker rooms and NBA executives were huddled outside of the Milwaukee locker room.
Clock is at 0:00 —- Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks are not on the court. pic.twitter.com/qAjoXDWCom
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 26, 2020
On the NBA TV broadcast, Sam Mitchell applauded players for taking such a strong stand, telling his own personal story of being impacted by police brutality, talking about a friend who was killed by police. Rebecca Haarlow explained that there was no word coming out of the Bucks locker room, from players, coaches, or team PR, but that the message was clear as tipoff time came and went without the Bucks ever stepping foot on the court.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Bucks players made the decision together pregame to boycott the game and not play.
Bucks players formalized decision pregame to boycott Game 5 against Orlando, per sources. Magic players wanted to play, but then returned to locker room. @TheAthleticNBA story: https://t.co/aWBTPrhdNX
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 26, 2020
The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to boycott Game 5, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020
George Hill issued a brief statement to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated explaining the Bucks decision.
Bucks guard George Hill says to @TheUndefeated his team is not playing against Orlando tonight in light of shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Hill to @TheUndefeated.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) August 26, 2020
According to Charania, the Bucks worked while they were in their locker room to contact their state’s attorney general.