Will the 2020 NBA Playoffs Continue After Wednesday's Protests?
Before 22 teams flocked to Orlando, Florida, for the resumption of the 2019-2020 season, many players contemplated whether it was worth it to go or not. Some players worried about potentially contracting COVID-19 considering we're still in the midst of a pandemic. Others feared coming back and playing pro basketball so quickly could lead to a higher risk of getting injured.
While those concerns are valid, the primary issue that players battled with was the fact that they didn't want to bring basketball back during such a critical time in America. After George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis Police Officer back in late May, the incident sparked many protests across the country. At the time, many NBA players were able to get involved with the protests in their respective cities.
As all of this was going on, NBA players feared that the return of basketball could issue a distraction from what's really important. Therefore, the league's return was in jeopardy. Eventually, though, players decided they were willing to return as it could issue them a platform to continue to spread a message.
For the last month or so, players have been outspoken about social injustice during media availabilities voicing their concerns about the state of the country, all while continuing to play the game. On Wednesday, that all changed, however. After a Police Officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin fired seven shots in the back of Jacob Blake earlier this week, many players down in the bubble started to regret their decision to play as the same problems continue to come about in America.
So before Wednesday's Game 5 Playoff between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic, the Bucks made a shocking decision to sit out. Shortly after, the Magic went back to their locker room too. And instead of accepting the forfeit, the Magic decided they were going to protest the game as well. That started a league-wide trend as all games for Wednesday night were postponed until further notice.
Now, Thursday's slate of playoff games is in question along with the remainder of the 2020 NBA season. At 8 pm est. on Wednesday night, every remaining team down in the bubble met for a meeting. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, teams participated in a vote regarding wrapping the season up.
While the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers were in favor of calling quits -- mostly every other team reportedly wants to finish what they already started this month. The meeting between NBA players and coaches concluded after a couple of hours on Wednesday night without an official gameplan moving forward.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, two additional meetings will take place on Thursday morning regarding the state of the season and the plan moving forward. One session will be between the NBA's Board of Governors, while the other will be between the players down in the bubble. Thursday's slate of playoff games is expected to be postponed -- but the state of the playoffs isn't decided just yet.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_