The US National Basketball Association (NBA) has postponed three play-off games scheduled for Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott Game 5 of their series against Orlando Magic in protest against racial injustice.
The action comes on the heels of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday.
“The NBA and the NBPA today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – Milwaukee-Orlando, Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City and Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled,” the NBA said in a statement on Twitter.
The NBA and the NBPA today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – MIL-ORL, HOU-OKC and LAL-POR have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.
— NBA (@NBA) August 26, 2020
Protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the US in recent days after video footage posted online showed the shooting of 29-year-old Blake on Sunday. In the footage, Blake appears to be trying to get into his car when a police officer fires several shots at close range into his back, seriously wounding him.
Some demonstrators in Kenosha have set fires and damaged property and the protests turned deadly in Kenosha late on Tuesday, when two people were killed and another injured in a shooting.
Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse has been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shooting.
Earlier on Wednesday, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters that the Bucks organisation was “very disturbed by what’s happening in Kenosha.”
“It’s a great challenge to have an appreciation and a desire for change and to want something different and better in Kenosha and Milwaukee and Wisconsin and then go out and play a game,” he said.
The Bucks and Orlando Magic were scheduled to play the game at 20:00 GMT. 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 penalty for a forfeit within a play-off series was not immediately clear.
The protests spilled over to Major League Baseball on Wednesday with the Brewers and Cincinnati Reds opting not to play their game Wednesday in Milwaukee. Other MLB teams were reportedly considering calling off their games as well.
Protests against racial injustice and police brutality have been at the forefront since the NBA restarted its season in a bio-secure bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando last month.
The courts have the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on them and many players are wearing jerseys with social justice slogans on them but the Bucks’ boycott was the most dramatic move by a team to date.
The death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in May, sparked protests across the United States, joined by many NBA players.