Jayson Tatum: Being a Black Man in America More Important Than Basketball

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) wears a purple armband in honor of the late Kobe Bryant during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

As players move forward in deciding how to handle the remainder of the 2020 NBA playoffs amid Jacob Blake's shooting in Wisconsin, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum says there are far more important issues than what happens on the floor.

"I mean, how many points we score, that s--t don’t matter right now. Being a Black man in America is more important than what I’m doing out there on a basketball court," Tatum told reporters Wednesday.

The NBA postponed Wednesday's scheduled Game 5s after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to play their matchup with the Orlando Magic in protest after Blake's shooting. The remaining five teams scheduled to play Wednesday (Magic, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers) chose to go on strike as well, giving the NBA little recourse but to reschedule the games for a later date.

Players are slated to meet Wednesday evening to discuss their plan for the remainder of the season. There has been some push for players to leave the bubble, but Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported there is a contingent of players who are pushing to remain in Orlando and use their platform for social change.

It's likely the meeting will result in players attempting to reach a near-consensus on how to handle the rest of the playoffs.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot seven times (struck four times) by police Sunday when reaching into his car to check on his three children. An attorney representing the Blake family, Benjamin Crump, said it's expected Blake will be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. 

NBA players have made social justice messaging a large part of season's resumption, with the league painting "Black Lives Matter" on the court and allowing players to use phrases on the back of their jerseys to highlight important issues.