The National Basketball Association postponed Wednesday’s playoff games after the Milwaukee Bucks did not take the floor for a game against the Orlando Magic in an apparent protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
The NBA announced the decision shortly after 4 p.m. C.T., citing the Bucks and saying it was delaying other Game 5 matches between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets, as well as the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers.
Each game will be rescheduled, the NBA said.
Earlier, when the clock struck 4:10 p.m for the Bucks to tip off against the Magic, the team was still in the locker room.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the playoff contest, Game 5 of the first-round playoff matchup inside the NBA bubble in Florida, would be played. The Bucks lead the best-of-7-game series, 3-1.
The Bucks play about 40 miles north of Kenosha, where Blake was shot in the back — and potentially paralyzed — by police on Sunday, in a confrontation captured on video.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Bucks Vice President Alexander Lasry said in a statement, a half-hour after the game was supposed to start.
“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.”
As the game delay played out, NBA superstar LeBron James appeared to tweet his support for the Bucks’ protest: “F–K THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”
That raw emotion could also be seen in a pre-game interview Tuesday with Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers after he was asked about Blake’s killing.
Rivers mentioned the Republican convention and the “fear” that he said its speakers were “spewing.” Then he said, “We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung, we’ve been shot.”
“It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back,” he said, choking up.
Last month, Bucks’ shooting guard Sterling Brown published a story in the The Players’ Tribune detailing an encounter with Milwaukee police after he parked in a handicapped spot at a Walgreens in 2018. An officer used a stun gun to subdue Brown and body camera footage showed an officer stepping on his ankle.
In the footage, officers could be heard discussing the optics of arresting an NBA player. One called his shift commander to inquire about overtime, then sang the “money, money” lyric from the O’Jays song, “For the Love of Money.”
No charges were filed in the incident and eight officers were disciplined afterwards. Three received unpaid suspensions and then-police chief Alfonso Morales apologized for the arrest. In his Tribune story, Brown said he’d refused a settlement because he “can’t be quiet” about what happened to him.
“I have a responsibility to be a voice and help change the narrative for my people,” he said.