The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

NBA players sit out playoff games to protest racial injustice

Three NBA playoff games were canceled and postponed following a collective player decision to go on strike on Wednesday. The Milwaukee Bucks initiated the protest in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday.

The Bucks players engaged in the strike for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic in response to the shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. This incident occurred exactly on the fourth anniversary of former NFL San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem before a preseason game.

Insider reported that the encounter between police and Blake began as they responded to a “domestic incident.” It is not known whether police responded in search of Blake specifically, but “there was an active arrest warrant in Blake’s name.” A police officer, now identified as Rusten Sheskey, shot Blake seven times in his back as he headed toward his own vehicle. Three of Blake’s children were in the vehicle when he was shot by the officer.

Protests broke out in Kenosha, Wisconsin after Blake’s shooting. The protests resulted in the deaths of two demonstrators in a shooting during the protests –  17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse from Illinois was arrested Wednesday in connection with the shooting.

After the team from Milwaukee refused to take the court, its players released a collective statement in response to their strike. In their statement, the players described their decision to focus on racial justice rather than the now-rescheduled game.

“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”, the statement read.

Before the release of the Bucks players statement, it was announced that players from the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers would also be sitting out for the remaining games on Wednesday.

Several NBA players have also used their social media platforms to voice their opinions on the matter of racial justice and in support of the Milwaukee Bucks. The NBA Coaches Association further amplified this stance in a statement of its own, supporting the players participating in the decision to not play on Wednesday.

The NBA is not the only sports league experiencing strikes and postponement of games. Promptly following the decision made by NBA players, the WNBA similarly canceled its Wednesday games. Three MLB games, including the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants, were also postponed on Wednesday as a result of players’ protest to Blake being shot.

The NBA officially resumed its season in the 2020 Bubble, also referred to as the “Disney Bubble” or “Orlando Bubble,” on July 30. Since the transition to the bubble, NBA coaches and players have consistently called for social justice, with most players wearing social justice messages such as “Black Lives Matter”, “Justice Now” and “How Many More” on the backs of their jerseys. 

All the players still at the NBA Bubble met to decide whether to finish the NBA season or not on Wednesday night, according to ESPN. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers reportedly voted not to continue the season.

After another meeting between all the players held Thursday morning, the players decided to continue the season. Thursdays playoff games will be postponed as well.


Featured image courtesy of  mvongrue / Creative Commons.

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About the Contributor
Andres Velasquez as born-and-raised in San Francisco. Andres went to City College of San Francisco for two years before transferring to San Francisco State University in Fall 2019. He decided to pursue journalism after my first semester at CCSF with the intention of combining his talent for writing with his love of sports. His main interests are soccer, basketball and American football. During his time at CCSF Andres covered the school's women's tennis team for the second half the Spring 2017 semester for The Guardsman, CCSF's student publication. [email protected]  

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NBA players sit out playoff games to protest racial injustice