NBA, WNBA postpone all Wednesday games after players refused to play over Jacob Blake shooting

BY: MARK OSBORNE, ABC News

(MILWAUKEE) — The NBA announced Wednesday it chose to postpone all three playoff games scheduled for the day after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their Game 5 against the Orlando Magic and other teams appeared likely to follow suit.

The Bucks decided not to take the court for Game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earlier this week, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games — Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers — have been postponed,” the NBA said in a statement. “Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”

The WNBA announced its three regular season games Wednesday — being held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida — would also be postponed.

The MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers also announced they will not play their game against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, according to ESPN. The Seattle Mariners, the roster with the league’s highest number of Black players, also said it would not play against the San Diego Padres.

Blake, who was unarmed, 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 caused violent protests in Kenosha the last three nights. Two people were killed in shootings during protests on Tuesday night.

The Kenosha Police Department and FBI have said they are investigating the shooting.

“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities,” Bucks guard Sterling Brown said, reading a statement after the team chose not to play. “Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings. Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”

The Bucks lead the series 3-1, and were scheduled to play Game 5 at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry tweeted. “The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”

The Magic said it supported not playing as well.

“Today we stand united with the NBA Office, the National Basketball Players Association, the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest of the league condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police against people of color,” the team said in a statement.

The Lakers lead their series 3-1 over Portland and the Thunder and Rockets are tied at 2-2. Three games are also scheduled for Thursday. No announcement has been made on whether they will be played.

All three games Wednesday were to be played at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, where the NBA is conducting its playoffs due to COVID-19.

Milwaukee is the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in the NBA playoffs. They lost Game 1, but have won three straight games. The team features Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA MVP, who was named defensive player of the year on Wednesday.

In an interview with The Undefeated, Bucks guard George Hill said, “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice.”

The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, who open their second-round playoff series on Thursday, have also discussed a boycott, according to Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.

“Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to try to demand a little more action,” Nurse said Wednesday, prior to the Bucks’ announced boycott. “That’s really what they want. I think there’s enough attention and not quite enough action, and that’s what I can sense from the discussions, is their disappointment. Like, ‘Man, how can we get something to change, like now?’ We need something to change, not just attention on the problem. We need a plan of action.”

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tweeted “WE DEMAND CHANGE! SALUTE @Bucks” in response to the shooting.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted similarly, adding an expletive and saying, “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”

ABC News’ Dan Linden and Karyn Rodus contributed to this report.

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