When the Milwaukee Bucks decided to not take the floor for their game against Orlando Wednesday, it does not appear that they intended to set off a nationwide series of strikes throughout sports. Altogether, 30 teams that were scheduled to play Thursday did not suit up.
What the Bucks reportedly thought would happen is that they would sit out to bring attention to the shooting of Jacob Blake and the inaction of the Wisconsin state legislature. They would forfeit their game, and the rest of the NBA postseason would proceed as scheduled.
However, the rest of the NBA players felt it was their duty to act in solidarity with the Milwaukee players. When the Magic were offered to accept the Bucks’ forfeit, they rejected it and declined to play. Four other teams followed, along with many others in different sports, and the rest of the NBA players collectively decided to put the games on pause. They then met, both with the coaches and without, to assess the way to move forward. Despite early reports that some of the league’s stars — including Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James — were not in favor of resuming the season, the playoffs will in fact come back.
Although the players projected public solidarity by acting together Wednesday, it appears that it was more challenging to achieve that outcome in their private meetings. Landry Shamet, in a podcast appearance with JJ Redick, said that he thought players were wary of expressing their full truths when the media was right outside and it seemed like their words were being leaked in real time.
Ultimately, they came to an agreement to stay in the bubble and keep playing while using this platform to advocate for social justice. But this is a situation that doesn’t feel resolved by any means. The team owners have reportedly made promises to “get to work on real action items that would benefit the Black community” — but it’s hard to know how they will held accountable for that. Every account of the meetings in Orlando suggests that several players still believe in sitting out longer or leaving the bubble altogether. Even if they stay with their teams out of solidarity, that could change with another public instance of police brutality.
The bubble is tenuous. This agreement among the players feels tenuous. We could wake up tomorrow to an entirely changed situation in the NBA.
For now, it appears the playoffs are returning. We await the next steps.
More news for Friday:
- Doc Rivers was reportedly a powerful voice in the players meeting after being asked to speak by Chris Paul. Rivers unfortunately has a long and sad history of dealing with racism.
- Clippers assistant Armond Hill was also an important figure in the Wednesday meeting.
According to a source, Clippers assistant Armond Hill said voting possesses the power to change. He informed the players that Trump has assigned over 200 federal judges.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) August 27, 2020
- The ESPN crew broke down what when into the NBA boycott.
- Vincent Goodwill provides social commentary on Milwaukee’s decision to not play.
- FiveThirtyEight looked back at some key instances of athlete activism.
- Clinton Yates wrote that the NBA’s walkout was about “collective bereavement”.
- It’s already dated, but The Athletic has the details on why the Clippers and Lakers originally voted to stop the season.