NBA to resume playoffs, but Thursday’s games postponed

By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — NBA players have decided to resume the playoffs, though there won’t be games on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Games could resume as early as Friday, sources told Wojnarowski.

“We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday,” the league said in a statement. A video call among stakeholders — players, team governors, union representatives, league representatives and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan — is scheduled for later on Thursday.

The Milwaukee Bucks decided on Wednesday to not take the court for Game 5 of their series in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earlier this week.

Their decision had a ripple effect on the sports world — other NBA teams, WNBA teams, MLS teams, MLB teams and other athletes joined the work stoppage to take a stand against systemic racism and police brutality.

Blake was shot seven times in the back by police after leaning into his car and is paralyzed from the waist down, according to his family. The shooting has sparked protests, some of which have turned violent, in Kenosha over the last three nights. Two people were killed in shootings during protests on Tuesday.

The WNBA also postponed three regular season games on Thursday.

The New York Mets voted not to play in protest Thursday night. The team took the field, paused for 42 seconds — a tribute to Jackie Robinson — and then left the field. They had been scheduled to play the Miami Marlins, who joined the Mets in the moment of silence outside the dugout.

Meanwhile, the NHL will not play any playoffs games Thursday in solidarity with other athletes protesting the racial injustice, sources told ESPN. The NHL later confirmed it would call off games on Thursday and Friday.

“Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences,” the NHL and NHL Players Association said in a joint statement. “The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice.”

“We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment,” it continued. “We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society. The NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”

An “End Racism” message is displayed prior to the start of Game Three of the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins during the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on Aug. 26, 2020, in Toronto.
Also on Thursday, several NFL teams announced they were canceling practices to meet and discuss issues of racial justice. Among those teams are the Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals and the Washington, D.C., football team.

The NFL and NFL Players Association released a joint statement reacting to Blake’s shooting and supporting teams that have decided to cancel workouts.

“The NFL community is united more than ever to support one another in these challenging times. We share anger and frustration, most recently as a result of the shooting of Jacob Blake,” the statement said.

“While our passions continue to run high, we are proud that our players and clubs, League and Union, are taking time to have the difficult conversations about these issues that affect the Black community and other communities of color in America,” it continued. “We are especially encouraged that these conversations are about how we can come together to make the necessary and long overdue changes in our country.

“We will continue to not only use our collective platform to call out racism and injustice whenever and wherever it occurs in our country, but also fight together to eradicate it.”

On Wednesday evening, U.S. tennis officials announced a pause in play at the Western & Southern Open to take a stance against “racial inequality and social injustice.”

“As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States,” tennis’ governing bodies said in a statement. “The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”

The announcement came after biracial tennis star Naomi Osaka posted on Instagram that she was not playing in her scheduled semifinal match at the 2020 Western & Southern Open.

“And as a Black woman,” Osaka wrote, “I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.”

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