Bucks Refuse to Play Game 5 vs. Magic After Shooting of Jacob Blake

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Marvin Williams (20) celebrates with teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) after an NBA basketball first round playoff game against the Orlando Magic Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Bucks won 121-106. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The Milwaukee Bucks have decided not to play Game 5 of their first-round series with the Orlando Magic

Following the team's move, the NBA formally postponed all three of Wednesday's playoff games. 

The game was originally scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. ET, yet the Bucks remained in the locker room with the start approaching. The Magic had been warming up but subsequently left the court as well.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium provided additional details into what went into the decision:

"We're tired of the killings and the injustice," Bucks guard George Hill said to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan released a statement, saying, "We fully support our players and the decision they made. Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them. The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change."

Bucks general manager Jon Horst later announced Milwaukee players would not speak to the media on Wednesday, per Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report.

Alex Lasry, the team's vice president of strategic marketing and business operations, indicated the organization will support the players' decision:

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The Magic issued a statement of support, showing support for Wednesday's decision:

ESPN's Malika Andrews provided context on what happened behind the scenes: 

"The scene outside the Bucks locker room right now: league public relations staffers, ball boys and team/league security are standing off to the side. Several high ranking league officials are having conversations in the hallways outside of the locker room."

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Bucks spent time on talking to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on the phone from the locker room following the postponement. Charania added:

Earlier Wednesday, Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported that the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee was discussing on the logistics of staging a boycott in the aftermath of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Haynes noted some players felt as though they weren't "in the right frame of mind to play basketball."

According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, who are scheduled to play Thursday, are considering a protest of their own.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse acknowledged the team has thrown around the idea of not playing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

"Boycotting the game has come up for them as a way to try to demand a little more action," he said, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. "That's really what they want."

Police reported to an alleged domestic disturbance on Sunday. Ben Crump, an attorney for Blake's family, said Blake was at the scene to break up a fight between two women.

A video showed Blake walking to the driver's side door, with two officers following him with their guns drawn. As he opened the door, one officer grabbed the bottom of Blake's tank top, and multiple gunshots are heard.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Ashley Luthern reported Blake is paralyzed from the waist down after his spinal cord was severed as result of the shooting. He also suffered internal organ damage.

Two people were shot and killed and a third was wounded during protests sparked by Blake's shooting in Kenosha on Tuesday evening. CNN reported authorities have arrested Kyle Rittenhouse and charged him with first-degree intentional homicide in connection to the crimes.

The NBA has attempted to draw attention to social justice initiatives during its restart in Florida, such as featuring the phrase "Black Lives Matter" on the court for games and having players wear BLM-themed warmups.

However, Mannix reported in June that some players were concerned about whether the return of games would divert attention away from attempts to achieve the goals at the heart of the nationwide demonstrations.

Hill expressed his frustration over the situation Monday.

"First of all, we shouldn't even have came to this damn place, to be honest," he told reporters. "Coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we're here. It is what it is. We can't do anything from right here."