NBA players are expected to return to the floor this weekend, league officials said Thursday, a day after teams walked out in support of ongoing protests against police brutality following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
The NBA announced that three playoff games scheduled for Thursday would also be called off, before action is expected to resume on Friday or Saturday.
The league and players on Thursday afternoon were still hammering out final details of this latest restart, according to a statement by NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he has not been following the NBA and doesn’t “know too much about the protests.”
But he still managed to offer an opinion: “They’ve become like a political organization and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”
Earlier in the day, the NBA rallied in support of protesting players. Officials — living and working inside the NBA bubble near Orlando — donned black T-shirts with the words “Everybody Vs. Racism,” outside their Disney hotels.
The referees union said in a statement Thursday that its members were marching “against racism and grieve for the black lives taken too soon.”
“Join us as we unite in the bubble, and around the world, to fight injustice and police brutality,” the union said.
The show of support for players comes despite a their fraught relationship between the two groups over the past several years.
Veteran referee Marc Davis told NBA TV that the march, which included dozens of other NBA staffers, stopped in on a players meeting.
“We basically said to them, ‘We’re here and we support you. We’re here and we support you and protect your right to speak your truth,’ ” Davis said.
The referee added, “We, as the older generation, are going to have to be an agent of change, and we think our group really represents that.”
Three more WNBA games set for Thursday have also been postponed, the league announced.
The National Hockey league is in the midst of its coronavirus-delayed playoff season as well with two games on tap for Thursday night.
San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane and Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, members of the league’s Hockey Diversity Alliance, asked the NHL to follow in the NBA’s footsteps and call off those games.
The group penned an open letter saying that such action would “send a message that human rights must take a priority over sport.”
And on the gridiron on Thursday, the Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team, Green Bay Packers and New York Jets all called off practice in support of ongoing protests.
The Wednesday sports walkouts were led by the Milwaukee Bucks, who normally play their home games at Fiserv Forum, almost 40 miles north of where Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha police officer on Sunday, officials said.
Viral video footage of the confrontation appeared to show Blake walking away from police before an officer, identified as seven-year veteran Rusten Sheskey, opened fire from behind at close range.
Blake is currently paralyzed from the waist down from the shooting, family members and lawyers said.
This is a developing story, please refresh here for updates.