KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to sit out a playoff game in protest of Jacob Blake’s shooting by police in Kenosha, Wis., which led the NBA to postpone three games Wednesday, will not lead to the end of the league’s postseason, according to people with knowledge of the situation.
NBA players from the 13 teams still remaining at the NBA’s bubble at Disney World met Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to discuss whether to resume play or to cancel the balance of the playoffs, which are set to run through mid-October. After an 11 a.m. players meeting, which ran concurrently with an emergency meeting of the NBA’s Board of Governors, the players decided to continue playing.
There were three games scheduled for Thursday, but those games are expected to be postponed as the NBA’s players work through the raw emotions shared by many players and coaches in the wake of Blake’s shooting.
Had the players chosen not to resume play, it would have likely have plunged the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association into a lengthy labor dispute. The two sides have yet to reach an agreement governing the terms of next season, and it’s possible that a shutdown of this summer’s restart could have triggered a lockout, given the billions of lost revenue caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
After a three-hour team meeting, Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill and Sterling Brown read a statement Wednesday explaining the team’s decision not to take the court, calling for action in Blake’s case.
“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,” Hill said. “We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement. We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
The Bucks did not give prior warning to the Orlando Magic, their opponent Wednesday, to NBA officials or to the other teams whose games were postponed. Their decision, which led to a phone conversation from the locker room with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, led to a charged meeting Wednesday night in which some players expressed a desire to stop playing in the bubble and return home.