Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday, August 23 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Bucks decided not to play game five of their series against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday. Ultimately, the NBA canceled all three playoff games scheduled to be played.
Kenny Smith, Carolina basketball alum, current TNT basketball analyst, and father of current Tar Heel KJ Smith, felt he couldn’t in good conscience participate in the “Inside The NBA” broadcast while NBA players were deciding not to play in response to racial injustice.
As Smith visibly wrestled with how to respond and precisely what words to use, he said,
“Right now my head is ready to explode, just in the thoughts of what’s going on. I don’t know if I’m even appropriate enough to say it; what the players are feeling and how they’re feeling. I haven’t talked to any of the players. Even driving here and getting into the studio…hearing calls and people talking…And for me, I think the biggest thing now, as a black man, as a former player, is to support the players and not be here tonight. [disconnects microphone] And figure out what happens after that. I just don’t feel equipped to be here.”
As Smith walked away, host Ernie Johnson added, “and I respect that.”
NBA legend Bill Russell tweeted his support for Smith and his willingness to take a stand:
“To my man @TheJetOnTNT [Kenny Smith] I would like to say Thank you for what you did to show your support for the players. I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble.”
You can also be assured that if he were alive today, Kenny Smith’s college coach, Dean Smith, would voice his support, appreciation, and admiration for the action his former player took.
Stay tuned to AllTarHeels for updates on the plans for the remainder of the NBA playoffs. At this point, it seems that, at the least, Thursday’s playoff games with also be canceled.
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