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Bucks Players Issue Statement on Decision to Sit Out: 'We Are Calling for Justice for Jacob Blake'

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Milwaukee Bucks players released a statement explaining why they decided not to play Game 5 against the Orlando Magic Wednesday night.

Bucks guards Sterling Brown and George Hill initially read the statement after emerging from their team's locker room. The rest of Milwaukee's team stood behind the aforementioned guards in support.

“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.

“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.

“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.

“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3."

The Bucks never took the court for warmups ahead of what was an initially scheduled 4 p.m tipoff with the Magic. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, in the ensuing hours inside Milwaukee's locker room, the team was on a conference call with Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul and lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes.

The Bucks' decision comes as a response to police shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, multiple times in the back Sunday in Kenosha, Wis.

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.

Bucks ownership also released a statement Wednesday evening.

"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."

Players and teams across a number of sports followed the Bucks' lead in deciding to sit out of games. The NBA postponed the two other games scheduled for Wednesday, Rockets-Thunder and Lakers–Trail Blazers, after players from those games had also discussed not playing. The Milwaukee Brewers decided to sit out of Wednesday's game against the Cincinnati Reds. All three WNBA games initially scheduled to be played Wednesday night were also postponed after players collectively decided to sit out.