Rockets, Thunder Reportedly On Strike for Game 5 After Jacob Blake Shooting

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Players from the Oklahoma City Thunder take a knee during the national anthem before Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Players from the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are on strike for Thursday's Game 5 of their first-round series in the 2020 NBA playoffs, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

The move comes after the Milwaukee Bucks declined to take the court for their 4 p.m. ET game against the Orlando Magic earlier Thursday as a form of protest in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

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

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors were discussing a possible boycott for the start of their second-round series on Thursday. Mannix added the Bucks' decision "could have a domino effect."

Shortly thereafter, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted his frustration with the present state of the country (warning: tweet contains profanity):

LeBron James @KingJames


ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes both reported a strike for Wednesday's encounter between the Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers is a possibility. The NBA officially postponed all three games Wednesday.

On Sunday, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, reported to an alleged domestic disturbance. Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing Blake's family, said Blake was present to break up an altercation between two women.

A video showed Blake walking toward the driver's side door of a gray SUV. Two officers followed him with their guns drawn. As he opened the door, one officer grabbed the bottom of his tank top, and multiple gunshots are heard.

Crump said Blake's three children were inside the car at the time of the shooting.

Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Blake is paralyzed from the waist down. His spinal cord was severed as a result of the shooting, and he suffered internal organ damage.

Haynes reported earlier on Wednesday the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee was working through the logistics of boycotting game:

"There is ongoing dialogue on what more could be done inside the bubble to raise awareness of racial injustice in an effort to enact change and thwart police brutality toward people of color, sources said.

"The hearts of players are heavy, with some feeling intense guilt for playing and that they're providing entertainment that is drowning out the injustices that are plaguing this country, sources said."

Haynes added that some players indicated they didn't feel "in the right frame of mind to play basketball."

Following his team's 154-111 win over the Dallas Mavericks, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers gave an impassioned speech about the numerous instances of racism perpetrated against Black people throughout history.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

.@DocRivers from the heart. https://t.co/Qp7St7kZ1k

On Monday, Hill expressed how restarting the NBA season might have been a mistake because it took the focus away from pursuing meaningful reforms to address systemic racism and police brutality.

"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. But definitely when it's all settled, some things need to be done. This world has to change."