ORLANDO, FL – The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their first-round series against the Orlando Magic on August 26. The team posted the following statement on social media:
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
“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.
“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. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
Following the Bucks’ boycott, the NBA announced that all three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday – between Milwaukee and Orlando, Houston and Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland – were postponed, with players around the league choosing to protest in their strongest statement yet against racial injustice.
The NBA said all three games would be rescheduled, but did not say when.
The Bucks are, of course, from Wisconsin, a state which has been rocked in recent days by the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The team did not take the floor for their playoff game against the Magic just as they were set to begin Game 5 of their series shortly after 4 PM EST, with the Bucks needing a win to advance to the second round.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry tweeted. “The stand taken today by the players and the [organization] 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.”
The Bucks remained in their locker room past 6 PM, more than two hours after they made the decision to boycott. It was not immediately clear why they were staying in the arena.
There are three other playoff games scheduled for August 27. It was unclear if they would be affected. Several NBA players, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, tweeted out messages demanding change and the Boston Celtics’ official Twitter account did the same.
“We weren’t given advanced notice about the decision but we are happy to stand in solidarity with Milwaukee, Jacob, and the entire NBA community,” Orlando guard Michael Carter-Williams said. “Change is coming.”
The Bucks boycott comes one day after their top player and reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was named 2019-20 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, winning the award in a landslide with 75 first-place votes from a panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters and earning 432 points total.
The Athens, Greece-born Antetokounmpo is just the fifth player ever to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in his career, alongside legends of the NBA Kevin Garnett, Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, and David Robinson.
The Bucks’ statement is also available on Twitter: https://t.co/ul5rMlitlS.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.