NATIONWIDE — Four years to the day after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the National Anthem to protest racial inequality, NBA players shocked the world by sitting out their playoff games Wendesday, leading to the NBA to officially postpone all of Wednesday's games.
The WNBA, a league known for their outspokenness toward social justice causes, followed suit. So did a handful of Major League Baseball teams.
The NBA shutting down in March marked a turning point for coronavirus shutdowns all over the country. Their players are likely hoping that this shutdown could inspire real change in the fight for racial equality and social justice.
Bucks players made a statement as a team, read by guards George Hill and Sterling Brown:
"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," they said in part."
“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 Nov. 3," the players added.
"WE DEMAND CHANGE! SALUTE @Bucks," Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tweeted.
LeBron James, one of the league's most prominent players, issued a powerful statement on Twitter: "**** THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT"
WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith tweeted that Jacob Blake "could've been my husband" and asked of her 1-year-old son, "at what age does he stop being 'cute' and start being 'threatening' and 'intimidating'?"
Washington Wizards all-star John Wall shared a graphic with the slogan "We Will Not Shut Up and Dribble" – echoing when Fox News host Laura Ingraham told James and Nets star Kevin Durant to "shut up and dribble" – with the caption, "Just in case you forgot!"
Enes Kanter of the Boston Celtics, who is from Turkey and is an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wrote, "We need CHANGE! Change can NOT wait!"
Presidential candidate Joe Biden shared the statement by Bucks players, applauding the players for "standing up, speaking out, and using their platform for good."
Former president Barack Obama commended the NBA and WNBA players and coaches for taking action. "It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values."
In one of the more emotional moments Wednesday, former NBA player and star of TNT's "Inside the NBA" Kenny Smith walked off the set of the show in solidarity with NBA players.
The #1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, took to Twitter to ask, "How can you hear the pain Black people are going through and dismiss it as nothing. How can you hear the pain and respond with anything other than 'I stand with you.'"
Former NBA player and 2x NBA Champion Pau Gasol said he was "proud" of his "brothers" in the NBA and shared a photo of John Lewis with his iconic "good trouble" quote.
Tennis pro Naomi Osaka said that she will be sitting out of her semifinal match of the Cincinnati Open Thursday: "Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman. And as a Black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis."
Kansas City Chiefs Safety Tyrann Mathieu said he was "FED UP" on Twitter.
"Ain’t enough money in world to keep overlooking true issues that effect the mind body & soul of what we do," Mathieu added.
Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop tweeted that "ending police brutality is more important than sports"