The NBA has been forced to postpone three Game 5 Playoff matches in response to a player-led boycott in protest against police brutality.
The incredible scenario unfolded after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted game five of their play-off series against Orlando Magic, with protests over racial injustice escalating in the United States.
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"We're tired of the killings and the injustice," Bucks guard George Hill explained to ESPN about the team's decision to boycott.
Bucks players formalized decision pregame to boycott Game 5 against Orlando, per sources. Magic players wanted to play, but then returned to locker room. @TheAthleticNBA story: https://t.co/aWBTPrhdNX— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 26, 2020
The action comes on the heels of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
"Myself and our players and our organisation are very disturbed by what's happening in Kenosha," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said earlier on Wednesday.
"It's a great challenge to have an appreciation and a desire for change and something different and better in Kenosha and Milwaukee and Wisconsin and then go out and play a game."
The Magic, who trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven, first-round series, left the court when it was clear the Bucks were not going to play.
The Bucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It sparked a chain of events that saw two more matches scheduled for the same day also postponed - Houston's game against Oklahoma City and the Lakers showdown with the Trailblazers.
Lakers superstar LeBron James took to social media with an angry message on Twitter in response to the boycotts.
"F*** THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT," he tweeted.
Jacob Blake shooting sparks outrage in USA
Orlando was warming up for about 15 minutes before Magic players left the floor after coming to terms with the fact that their opponents would not join them.
This protest is in reaction to Kenosha, Wisconsin, police shooting African American Jacob Blake multiple times Sunday as he tried to get into his vehicle. His family’s attorney said three of his children — sons ages 3, 5 and 8 — were in the vehicle during the incident.
Blake is hospitalised and underwent surgery earlier this week.
The Bucks released a statement on Monday, condemning the local police department.
“The Bucks organization is praying for the recovery of Jacob Blake, who was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer at point-blank range in Kenosha, Wisconsin [Sunday]. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. 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.”
Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry took to Twitter immediately to show support for his team.
Some things are bigger than basketball. The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change— Alex Lasry (@AlexanderLasry) August 26, 2020