Stephen: NBA teams lead night of protest in sports world over Jacob Blake shooting

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On Wednesday, it was reported that the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their Game 5 matchup against Orlando Magic in the NBA Playoffs over the police shooting of unarmed Black man Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this past weekend. Sports reporter Lance Allan tweeted Wednesday afternoon, “Just moments ago, FOX Sports Wisconsin showed the [pregame countdown] clock hit 0.0 and both teams, Bucks and Magic, are not on the floor.”

ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski added in his own tweet, “Top NBA executives are outside of the Milwaukee locker room, but haven’t gone inside.” Meanwhile, ESPN reports that the Bucks never emerged from their locker room for warmups, while the Magic did take some pregame shots, only to leave the court with 3:56 to go until the scheduled tip at 4 p.m. ET.

NBA TV analyst Kenny Smith walked off the TNT Inside the NBA set Wednesday night as a show of solidarity with the league-wide NBA protests. An emotional Smith said he struggled to find the right words to describe his anger over the shooting. “This is tough. I mean, right now my head is ready to explode,” Smith said. “And for me, I think the biggest thing now as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.” The WNBA also announced it was canceling three games scheduled for Wednesday. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action,” said Atlanta Dream player Elizabeth Williams.

In Major League Baseball, players for the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds also decided to sit out Wednesday’s game in solidarity with the NBA, and in protest of Blake’s shooting, Sports Illustrated reports. Later, players for the Seattle Mariners also voted to postpone their game with the San Diego Padres in protest of racial injustice. The Padres also released a statement, saying they supported the decision. They were then joined by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Fransisco Giants, who likewise sat out their game. Major League Soccer also postponed all five of its matches Wednesday night.

Tennis ace Naomi Osaka also refused to play. “Before I am an athlete, I am a Black woman,” the 22-year-old tweeted Wednesday night. “There are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority-white sport, I consider that a step in the right direction.” ESPN reported that several hours later, Osaka’s announcement propelled tennis’ bigwigs to announce that play would pause on Thursday. “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,” said a joint statement from the USTA, ATP and WTA. “[We] have decided to recognize this moment in time by pausing play at the Western and Southern Open on Thursday, August 27. Play will resume on Friday, August 28.”

 

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