Shortly before the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic were scheduled to tip off game 5 of their first round series on Wednesday, the Bucks made a monumental decision.
Although several Milwaukee players, including center Brook Lopez and guard Eric Bledsoe, took the floor for warm ups the Bucks decided to strike and not take the floor minutes before the scheduled tip off.
This caused a massive domino effect that would affect not only the rest of the NBA playoff games scheduled for that date, but games and practices in other leagues across the country.
Following in the NBA’s footsteps the WNBA, MLB, MLS as well as The Western and Southern Open tennis tournaments all postponed their scheduled games. Multiple NFL teams also cancelled practices Thursday following the events.
The NBA also postponed games set for Thursday and are slated to do the same for Friday’s scheduled games.
The Bucks’ headquarters are located just over 30 miles from where Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times by police in front of his children on August 23. This incident comes after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and numerous Black Americans across the country.
The Bucks have also been affected by police brutality directly and are not too far removed from it. In 2018, Milwaukee forward Sterling Brown was slammed to the ground and tazed after being cited for a parking violation. Brown then filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming wrongful arrest and excessive force, he denied a settlement offer from the city of Milwaukee.
The NBA and its players have remained vocal about the recent social injustices since the murder of Floyd. Many players were seen at protests all across the country. As the league returned to play in July, players had the option to wear social justice messages on their uniforms.
Some of the approved messages included “Black Lives Matter”, “How Many More?” and “Respect Us.”
Teams and officials have also taken a knee during the national anthem and have worn warm-up shirts that have “Black Lives Matter” on them. The NBA also decided to put “Black Lives Matter” on each of the 3 courts that games were taking place on.
The players organized a meeting later that night to discuss everything that had just taken place. All of the remaining teams in Orlando were invited. At one point, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, both the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers voted to not finish the remainder of the season.
However, after more meetings the following day, the NBA and its players decided to resume the season after all with teams scheduled to play on Saturday according to Wojnarowski.
If there was anything to be taken away from the events of this week it is that players have more power than people might have given them credit for in the past.
Before Wednesday, major events like 9/11 and the Covid-19 outbreak caused multiple leagues to halt play. The NBA became one of the first to do so for social justice causes and players are utilizing their platforms more than ever before. The players are fighting for a cause that goes beyond sports and they continue to ask for those responsible to be held accountable.
Since returning to play, the league and its players have been vocal about these issues and the strike was another layer added to their activism and they don’t look like they are slowing down anytime soon.