Surreality set in as the clock dripped towards tip time for the Game 5 of the first-round playoff series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. As close as four minutes until game time, per ESPN’s Malika Andrews, only Magic players had taken the floor for warmups.
Soon after, they retreated to their locker room. It’s now been reported by multiple outlets that the Bucks opted to not play Game 5 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wis. on Sunday. Kenosha, where mass protests have broken out in response to the shooting, is roughly 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Clock is at 0:00 —- Orlando Magic and Milwaukee Bucks are not on the court. pic.twitter.com/qAjoXDWCom
Additionally, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Bucks players are attempting to contact Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced an investigation into the shooting, which was widely shared across social media platforms in a video taken by a bystander.
Bucks players are in locker room attempting to reach the attorney general of Wisconsin, Josh Kaul, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Magic players are leaving the arena soon — not accepting the Bucks‘ forfeit.
The strike is a powerful and historic statement toward justice for Blake — who, after being shot several times in the back, is reported to be alive and in stable condition, but paralyzed from the waist down — and also against systemic racism and the disparate treatment of Black people by police in the United States. A resounding call for change that transcends gestures made by players in the bubble thus far.
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
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.
Two more games were on the NBA schedule for Wednesday evening: Trail Blazers-Lakers and Thunder-Rockets. The league has announced that all three games, including Bucks-Magic, on the docket will be postponed for a later date. Charania had previously reported the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and Rockets’ intent to strike.
On the status of games in the bubble moving forward, there’s not yet comprehensive word. Fred VanVleet of the Raptors spoke Tuesday on the possibility of a strike, and conversations between Toronto and their second-round opponent Boston Celtics were reported to be ongoing by Haynes early Wednesday.
NBA players have called for a meeting tonight in Orlando to determine next steps, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
UPDATE (4:56 p.m. CT): ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported an unnamed player believes « the season is in jeopardy » entering tonight’s meeting to discuss plans moving forward, and the possibility of further postponements.
Emotions are raw, players were already worn out of bubble environment prior to the Jacob Blake shooting and sources say discussions within teams are ongoing about postponing tomorrow’s three games too — and beyond. « The season is in jeopardy, » one vet player here tells ESPN.
The way Craig Hodges sees it, he humbly did his part on a continuum — one that included his activist mother, along with more famous names such as Jim Brown, Muhammed Ali, Lew Alcindor, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Curt Flood and Arthur Ashe.
Still, you couldn’t help but hear the pride in Hodges’ voice Wednesday as he reacted to an historic day in the NBA, and for American sports.
As first the Milwaukee Bucks, and then multiple teams across the NBA, WNBA and MLB opted not to play in games in the wake of police shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wis., one couldn’t help but remember Hodges’ attempts to address racial inequities while serving the role of reserve sharpshooter on the Bulls’ first three-peat teams.
“I think it’s a level of maturity that young players are reaching now. They see the impact they have and the platforms that can help elevate the consciousness of not only America but people around the world,” Hodges said in a phone interview. “The NBA is a multibillion dollar conglomerate. Young brothers have seen the light of oppression, and they want to be part of the solution.”
Hodges, who grew up in Chicago Heights and attended and later coached at Rich East High School, came to activism at an early age. His mother, Ada, educated him on civil and voting rights’ issues. Hodges remembers his mother sending him out in the neighborhood to collect signatures on petitions pertinent to important causes.
So it shouldn’t surprise that Hodges recognized Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals as an opportunity. With the Bulls set to face the Lakers on an international stage, Hodges said he approached Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson about skipping the game to address the lack of Black ownership and coaches in a predominately African-American league.
Craig Hodges asked Michael Jordan & Magic Johnson to boycott the 1991 NBA Finals to stand in solidarity against racism. Jordan dismissed it quickly.Magic: “That’s too extreme, man.”Hodges: “What’s happening to our people in this country is extreme.”#bucksboycott #JacobBlake pic.twitter.com/L8GzDf28Ef
When that didn’t happen, Hodges, wearing a dashiki, used the Bulls’ visit to the White House to write a letter to President George H.W. Bush calling for heightened administration attention to poor and disenfranchised communities.
“For me in the ’90s, it was a matter of trying to get Magic and Michael to realize we have our most influence at All-Star games and during the playoffs. This was proven today,” Hodges said. “At that point, it was about addressing inequities in ownership and management. Now, it’s about the structural changes in society that we need.
“When I gave President Bush that letter, there were 900 murders in the city of Chicago at that time. So it was some of the same issues we’re dealing with today. We have to speak to issues that confront us as people as opposed to just those that impact our own careers.”
While at the White House, Hodges said he thought of those who practiced activism who came before him.
“They paved the way for us to have a social consciousness,” Hodges said. “They utilized their platforms and sacrificed their time so that I and these young brothers today can take the stand they’re taking.
“People called what I did a protest. It wasn’t a protest. I think it was more of just a duty, a responsibility to where I came from. That’s what I’m seeing today, too. We’re seeing young brothers who realize they have a responsibility to where they came from. Right now, playing basketball isn’t getting it done. From this, there will be some talks about solid, fundamental solutions that can come from this. And there has to be.”
The Milwaukee Bucks decided not to play their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic to take a stand against racial injustice and violence from police officers.
Specifically, the shooting of Jacob Blake by police officers in Kenosha, a city near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.
Other NBA teams slated to play also decided to protest. The WNBA canceled games. Select MLB teams and players have followed, including Jason Heyward electing not to play for the Cubs’ game against the Tigers in Detroit.
The Bucks addressed the media as a united group, and Sterling Brown and George Hill read a prepared statement on behalf of their team
The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.
We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on November 3.
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