“A strike for racial justice,” is how progressive sports analyst, writer, and Nation columnist Dave Zirin categorized the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Milwaukee Bucks refusal to play basketball Wednesday night.
In a move unprecedented in the last 50 years of U.S. professional sports history, the Bucks on Wednesday refused to take the court for their scheduled playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The strike was reportedly called in protest of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake last Sunday.
The NBA consequently postponed the two remaining playoff games scheduled for Wednesday as well after the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder announced plans to strike.
After the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the playoff series, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said, “All we hear about is Donald Trump and fear. We are the ones getting shot and being denied to live in certain communities. It’s amazing to me that we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”
The news was apparently greeted in much of Black America with pride as well as in the NBA and sports world.
Donovan Mitchell tweeted, “We demand change! Salute!”
Jamal Murray tweeted, “We demand justice.”
Jaylon Brown tweeted, “Let’s go protest.”
Retired NBA star Duwayne Wade tweeted, “Proud of our players.”
Former player Chris Webber said in a broadcast that he “applauds” the young people taking a stand.
Even ESPN sports broadcaster Stephen A. Smith chimed in saying that he was proud of the players. “Our people are more important than money, is what they are saying. It’s about sacrifice,” he said.
Prior to the boycott, some players had responded to the Blake shooting on Twitter as well.
LeBron James tweeted, “F– THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”
“What are we willing to give up? Do we actually give a f— about what’s going on? Or is it just cool to have Black Lives Matter on the backdrop or wear a t-shirt? What does that really mean?” tweeted Toronto Raptors, Fred Van Vleet.
The WNBA’s scheduled games went on and the women took a break at the seven-minute mark of each quarter to acknowledge the call for justice in the shooting of Blake and other instances of police violence. The Atlanta Dream wore warm up shirts with Blake’s name spelled out with each player wearing a letter, and the Washington Wizards wore shirts with Blake’s name on the front and seven red spots representing blood from gunshots on the back.
Inside the NBA broadcaster, Kenny Smith, left the booth Wednesday night saying that the only way he could support the players was to refuse to participate in tonight’s telecast.
In yet another unparalleled move, Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers decided they would not play their game on Wednesday night against the Cincinnati Reds. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers decided they would not play and the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres refused to take the field as well.
“This might be bigger than the John Carlos, Tommy Smith protest at the Olympics in 1968. I thought I would never get to see the day when the players would use their power as they did back in the ’60s, they have had it forever,” said MSR sports columnist and contributing writer Charles Hallman.
“I am proud of the fact that they showed to everybody that they are not just about sports and that other things are more important,” Hallman continued. ” This is something that cannot be easily be dismissed; this affects everybody. I am glad to see the players stand up. I hope they don’t play for a few more days. This is personal. Sends a message that they are not just players but they are also human beings.
“This [boycott, strike] is the direct result of somebody getting shot and might be paralyzed the rest of his life which is what makes this more historic. This is not a general protest but this is the direct result of someone getting shot.
“I hope this is a sign of things to come. It can’t be just us [Black people] talking about it [police violence, racial justice] it has to be the whole country. We know what’s going on; we need other people to feel what we do,” concluded Hallman.