The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to sit out Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Orlando Magic, the NBA announced Wednesday.
The Bucks' decision comes as a response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot by police multiple times in the back Sunday in Kenosha, Wis.
Wednesday's Rockets-Thunder game and Lakers–Trail Blazers game have been also postponed as a result of the Bucks' decision. "Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled," the NBA said in a statement.
Prior to Wednesday's tipoff, which was scheduled just after 4 p.m. ET, the Bucks did not come out to the court to warm up. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, top NBA executives went outside Milwaukee's locker room around 4.
At around the time of the game's initially scheduled start, the Magic returned to their locker room.
In a league-wide meeting involving every NBA player Wednesday night, the growing sentiment is that, at the minimum, the three games scheduled for Thursday will not be played, per SI's Chris Mannix. Mannix also reports that, in the meeting, players expressed a desire for owners to make a case that remaining in the bubble and playing will help push issues of voting and police reform forward. If ownership is unable to deliver, the season could be over.
The Bucks released a statement after 6:30 p.m. ET.
"We fully support our players and the decision they made," the team said in a statement signed by Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan. "Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change."
“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 Magic said in a statement.
The Blake police shooting appears to have strongly impacted countless players and coaches in the Orlando bubble.
Bucks guard George Hill, who left the team's locker room wearing a "Change the Narrative" shirt, told The Undefeated's Marc Spears that the team is not playing in light of the Blake shooting. “We’re tired of the killings and the injustice," Hill said.
Hill said Monday he regretted coming to the NBA bubble amid all that is going on in society. “We can’t do anything [from Orlando],” Hill said. “First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
The Bucks said in a statement Monday that, "We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the black community.
"Our organization will continue to stand for all black lives as we demand accountability and systemic change on behalf of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sylville Smith, Ernest Lacy, Dontre Hamilton, Tony Robinson, Joel Acevedo and countless other victims. We will work to enact policy change so these incidents no longer exist."
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is investigating the shooting, which occurred Sunday evening. As of Wednesday afternoon, Blake was conscious but partially paralyzed from a bullet that severed his spinal cord. The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave, according to the Wisconsin DOJ's statement.
The shooting Sunday comes weeks removed from countless large-scale protests against racism and police violence across the United States, which were largely prompted by the killing of George Floyd. Floyd, 46, was killed in late May after being violently apprehended by Minneapolis police. He was unarmed.
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"What stands out to me is just watching the Republican convention and viewing this fear, right?" Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said after his team's victory Tuesday night over the Mavericks. "All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear. We're the ones getting killed. We're the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that are denied to live in certain communities. We’ve been hung, we’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.
"The training has to change in the police force. The unions have to be taken down in the police force. My dad was a cop. I believe in good cops. We’re not trying to defund the police and take all their money away. We’re trying to get them to protect us, just like they protect everybody else.
"It’s really so sad. I should just be a coach and it’s so haunting—reminded of my color. It’s just really sad. We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to demand better."
Added Raptors forward Pascal Siakam: “We came here for a reason, to use our platform and wanting to send a message and hopefully bring awareness and make a change. But if feels like we’re stuck. We’re not doing anything productive … these things hurt. I don’t care where you’re from.”
The Raptors and Celtics discussed sitting out Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in a players-only meeting between the two teams on Tuesday night. Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday.
According to Mannix, the Celtics and Raptors both remain deep in possible discussions about sitting out.
NBA Players' Association executive director Michele Roberts released a statement Wednesday night in support of the players' decision to protest.
“Throughout the season restart, our players have been unwavering in their demands for systemic justice," Roberts' statement read. "This week we witnessed another horrific, shocking and all too familiar act of brutality in the shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. The Players have, once again, made it clear—they will not be silent on this issue. We stand with the decision of the players of the Milwaukee Bucks to protest this injustice and support the collective decision to postpone all of today’s games.”
Before the NBA's return to action, countless players from around the league were concerned that the league's return was going to overshadow the on-going social justice movement around the United States.