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NBA and players union agree to restart playoffs Saturday following walkout

The NBA playoffs will resume Saturday following a player walkout over systemic racism and Jacob Blake’s shooting in Wisconsin, the league and union announced Friday. NBA playoff games were postponed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Milwaukee Bucks, who play their games just 40 miles away from where Blake was shot in the back by Kenosha police, sparked the protest on Wednesday, with all games since then postponed.

“We had a candid, impassioned and productive conversation yesterday between NBA players, coaches and team governors regarding next steps to further our collective efforts and actions in support of social justice and racial equality,” according to the statement.

As part of the restart agreement, every team that controls its home arena has been told to work with local election officials in hopes of turning those buildings into polling places for the Nov. 3 election, according to a a joint statement from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players Association Executive Director Michele Roberts.

The NBA players were among athletes in a wide cross-section of sports — basketball, baseball, hockey and tennis — who have been protesting after Blake’s shooting this week.

The WNBA lost regular season games on Wednesday and Thursday, but plans to be back in action on Friday.

On Friday, University of Mississippi football players walked out of their practice in protest against racism and Blake’s shooting, viral video shot from the historic campus showed.

The Ole Miss athletes chanted “No justice, no peace” and one held a sign “End Police Brutality” as they marched to a town square.

Viral video showed Blake walking away from police when one officer opened fire at close range, striking him seven times in the back, officials said. The officer has been identified as seven-year veteran Rusten Sheskey, and he has been placed on administrative leave.

Blake remains hospitalized and is currently paralyzed from the waist down, family members and lawyers have said.

The NBA pact with the players union also called for the league to team up with its broadcast partners to include more advertising spots that highlight social justice initiatives and voter turnout efforts.

“These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” the joint league-union statement said.

If the schedule picks up as it was set earlier for Saturday, then those first slate of games inside the NBA bubble near Orlando would be the Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers, the Utah Jazz against the Denver Nuggets and the Boston Celtics playing the Toronto Raptors.

At Ole Miss, the Rebels kick off their coronavirus-delayed college football season on Sept. 26 at home against the University of Florida.

Representatives for the Ole Miss athletic department did not immediately return phone calls and emails seeking response Friday.

The Ole Miss Rebels logo on the field on Nov. 9, 2019 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss.Michael Wade / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images file

The university in Oxford, Mississippi, occupies a prominent spot in the history of America’s civil rights movement.

Segregationists infamously rioted at Ole Miss in fall 1962 when state and federal authorities escorted James Meredith on to campus as the school’s first Black student.

Jareen Imam contributed.