LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — All three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday have been postponed, with players around the league choosing to boycott in their strongest statement yet against racial injustice.
Called off: Games between Milwaukee and Orlando, Houston and Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland. The NBA said all three games would be rescheduled, yet did not say when.
And the reverberations quickly moved into Major League Baseball and the WNBA. The Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds reportedly decided not to play as scheduled Wednesday and WNBA players also are not playing three regular season games in Bradenton, Florida.
The dramatic series of moves began when the Bucks — the NBA’s team from Wisconsin, a state rocked in recent days by the shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man — didn’t take the floor for their playoff game against the Magic. The teams were set to begin Game 5 of their series shortly after 4 p.m., with the Bucks needing a win to advance to the second round.
Players had been discussing boycotting games in the bubble after the shooting of Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. More discussions among players on teams still in the bubble were scheduled Wednesday, presumably on how — or if — to go forward with the season, but even before that the Bucks apparently decided they would act.
“We fully support our players and the decision they made,” Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a joint statement. “Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”
Added Jeanie Buss, the Governor of the Lakers, in a tweet: “I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough.”
The Bucks remained in their locker room past 6 p.m., more than two hours after they made the decision to boycott. It was not immediately clear why they were staying in the arena.
There are three other playoff games scheduled Thursday. It was unclear if they would be affected. Several NBA players, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, tweeted out messages demanding change and the Boston Celtics’ official Twitter account did the same.
“We weren’t given advanced notice about the decision but we are happy to stand in solidarity with Milwaukee, Jacob, and the entire NBA community,” Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said. “Change is coming.”
Magic players and referees were on the basketball court for the game but Milwaukee never took the floor. The National Basketball Referees Association said it “stands in solidarity with our players’ decision to boycott tonight’s games” and the National Basketball Players Association tweeted that the “revolution will be televised.”
NBPA President Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder and guard Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets were seen emerging from a conversation, not long before it became known that their teams also decided to not play their scheduled game Wednesday.