LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. — The NBA has postponed all games scheduled for Wednesday, August 26, following reported acts of protest from individual teams in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police.
Reports of the refusal to play began after the Milwaukee Bucks did not take the floor against the Orlando Magic for Game 5 of their playoff series.
After, news broke that the Bucks were refusing to play their scheduled game, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Bucks' protest action was soon joined by the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder, as reported by Stadium and the Athletic's Shams Charania.
Following that, Wojnarowski broke the news that Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers were also not playing their game.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted on Wednesday, saying: "**** THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT"
The acts of protest come in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, by police officers, which has sent shockwaves through the National Basketball Association.
The following games in other sports leagues are also being postponed tonight related to the NBA walkouts:
- Cincinnati Reds vs. Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)
- Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres (MLB)
- Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants (MLB)
- Connecticut Sun vs. Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)
- Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)
- Washington Mystics vs. Atlanta Dream (WNBA)
- Atlanta United vs. Inter Miami (MLS)
- FC Dallas vs. Colorado (MLS)
- Real Salt Lake vs. LAFC (MLS)
- San Jose vs. Portland (MLS)
- LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders (MLS)
According to ESPN, the Bucks did not take the court for warmups ahead of Wednesday's game. Magic players were seen taking shots pregame, while the Bucks' half of the court was empty. The Magic left the court with 3:56 left until the game started.
Top NBA executives were outside of the Milwaukee locker room ahead of the scheduled tip, but did not go inside, according to ESPN.
Meanwhile, inside the locker room, the Bucks were reportedly on the phone with Wisconsin's Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes and Attorney General Josh Kaul.
Blake was shot by Kenosha police on Sunday and the incident was captured in a graphic video apparently filmed by a bystander across the street. The 29-year-old is paralyzed from the waist down and officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave.
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.
The Milwaukee Bucks also released a statement as a team Wednesday, saying that they "fully support" their players and agree with their decision.
"The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us," the statement continued. "Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change."
Alex Lasry, Senior Vice President of the Milwaukee Bucks and son of team governor Marc Lasry, put out a statement saying that "some things are bigger than basketball" and added that he is "incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change."
Sterling Brown filed a police brutality lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police following an arrest in 2018.
In an essay for The Players' Tribune in July, Brown wrote why he rejected a settlement from the city of Milwaukee in 2019: "I want more than just money. I want cops to show respect and to be held accountable when they step out of line, especially in the neighborhoods they are supposed to serve and protect every day. If they kill a man, I want them to receive the same punishment that another guy on the street would."
"The current movement has confirmed for me how important it is that we stand for something," Brown continued. "If we in the Black community want change, we have to go make it."
In an emotional moment, former NBA player and "Inside the NBA" co-host Kenny Smith walked off the show in solidarity with NBA players.
"As a black man, as a former player, I think it's best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight," Smith said as he took off his microphone on live television.
According to a report from Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes citing league sources, a meeting Tuesday was organized by "players who are emotionally traumatized" by the incident in Kenosha to discuss what actions they could take to protest, including hashing out "the logistics of potentially boycotting games."
Marc J. Spears of ESPN'S The Undefeated reported, also citing league sources, that members of the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors met Tuesday night regarding "possibly boycotting" Thursday's "Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and other potential measures in light of the Jacob Blake shooting."
WNBA players also made statements after the league postponed the remainder of Wednesday's games.
Washington Mystics players took the court wearing holes in the back of their shirts - representing bullet holes - after their game was postponed.
Three MLB games - Reds at Brewers, Mariners at Padres and Dodgers at Giants - were also postponed Wednesday.
MLB has confirmed that the Reds and Brewers will play a doubleheader Thursday to make up Wednesday's game.
Celtics star Jaylen Brown made a powerful statement to reporters about the stark reality of Blake's shooting: “People post my jersey all the time, #7. And every time I look at my jersey now, what I see is a Black man being shot seven times. All America sees is his background report. It’s easier to see that than it is to see the truth.”
Bucks guard George Hill told reporters Monday he regrets going to Florida to restart the NBA season in the first place, in light of the shooting: "I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are."
Michele Roberts, the president of the National Basketball Players Association, put out a statement of support for the players' decision not to play.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving was one of the leading voices advocating for not playing inthe NBA restart as early as June, according to multiple reports. Irving's role in calling for a work stoppage drew criticism from fans and media alike, at the time.
Speaking to reporters after the Los Angeles Clippers' 154-111 over the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday, Doc Rivers delivered an emontional response to the incident.
“What stands out to me is just watching the Republican convention, viewing this fear," Rivers said. "All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that we’re denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung. We’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear."
“It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back," he added. "It’s really so sad."
The NBA's restart at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida came on the heels of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers, causing players to debate whether or not to play at all amid a time for social unrest in the country.
NBA players have made the Black Lives Matter movement very visible throughout the NBA restart, wearing jerseys bearing social justice messaging and Black Lives Matters warm-up shirts, kneeling during the national anthem and using their voices during interviews to speak out about social justice.
After a playoff game victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul used his post-game interview to address Blake's shooting.
Last week, 4x NBA MVP LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers donned MAGA-like hats calling for justice for Breonna Taylor.
ESPN's Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported that there will be a meeting Wednesday night to discuss how they will proceed moving forward; all NBA players are invited.
Wojnarowski reported that the idea of canceling the rest of the postseason came up during the meeting.
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."
Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled, the NBA announced.