The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their playoff game against the Orlando Magic over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake by a white police officer. This triggered other team members to consider doing the same and led to a shutdown of the playoffs by the National Basketball Association (NBA).
It seems the killing of Black men by white police officers never seems to stop even after the recent protest over the death of George Floyd by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin who had his knee pressed against the neck of George Floyd for over 8-minutes.
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The Bucks’ players during a joint statement Wednesday night before their scheduled game against the Orlando Magic said “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.”
The Bucks protest triggered responses and support in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), soccer, and major league baseball.
Mixed race tennis player Naomi Osaka also pulled out of the semi-finals of the U.S. Open in protest against racial injustice.
She said on Twitter “Before I am a 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.”
A history professor, Jeffrey Sammons at New York University attributed the event to that of the ’60s and ’70s. He said, “In some ways, this is similar to the climate of the ’60s and early ’70s, in which there was this Black nationalism, this incredible activism, which actually pulled athletes into the Black freedom struggle and also opposition to the Vietnam War.” 2020 is also different Sammons said.
“It’s become clear that athletes have considerably more power than they did back then, and I think what’s happening in the larger society has given them more cover than they have had before.” He further added.
President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have both expressed support for Milwaukee Bucks players for boycotting their NBA playoff game. Joe Biden wrote in a retweet of the video message of the Milwaukee Bucks “This moment demands moral leadership. And these players answered by standing up, speaking out, and using their platform for good. Now is not the time for silence.”
“I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values.” Barack Obama wrote on Twitter.
Following the boycott, the NBA is yet to publicly address its plans to resume play.
We pray these efforts mark a change in racial equality and justice.