MLB, NFL And WNBA Follow In NBA Players' Footsteps By Postponing Games, Practice In Protest Of Jacob Blake Shooting
Solidarity is a marvelous thing.
August 27, 2020 at 12:27 am
Update (August 27, 2020): Pro sports leagues around the country are following the NBA’s lead and protesting games in response to the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake on Sunday.
The NBA decided to postpone all of its scheduled playoff games on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks announced they would be going on strike amid their scheduled game against the Orlando Magic. Shortly after, teams and players from leagues like the WNBA, MLB, NFL and MLS opted to also protest sporting activities, The Washington Post reports.
The Milwaukee Brewers, the city’s pro baseball team, would also decide not to take the field against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. Brewers star Ryan Braun said his team’s decision was influenced by the Bucks.
“Our team and the Reds felt that with our community and our nation in such pain, tonight we wanted 100 percent of the focus to be on issues that are much more important than baseball,” Brewers pitcher Brent Suter said.
As the day went on, the Seattle Mariners voted unanimously to sit out their game against the San Diego Padres. Later, the San Francisco Giants joined the Los Angeles Dodgers in protesting their game. According to The Post, Dodgers star Mookie Betts, one of baseball’s brightest Black stars, said he wouldn’t have played even if the game had taken place.
“Given the pain in the communities of Wisconsin and beyond following the shooting of Jacob Blake, we respect the decisions of a number of players not to play tonight," an MLB statement read. “Major League Baseball remains united for change in our society and we will be allies in the fight to end racism and injustice."
In the WNBA bubble, three games were postponed on Wednesday night in solidarity with the NBA’s announcement, per ESPN. The WNBA’s decision was announced shortly before the tip which was set to take place at 7 p.m. EST for the Washington Mystics and the Atlanta Dream.
"We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action," Dream forward Elizabeth Williams said in a statement. "What we have seen over the last few months, and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake, is overwhelming. And while we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change.”
Meanwhile, all but one of the six Wednesday MLS matches were postponed after one or both teams refused to participate. The start of the Atlanta-Miami game was delayed 20 minutes before being called off. Before the pitch, players and referees gathered in solidarity at midfield but never officially started the match.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka, the highest-paid woman athlete in the world, tweeted that she would not play her semifinal match in the Western & Southern Open in New York, shortly after winning her quarterfinal.
“However, before I am a athlete, I am a Black woman.” she began. “And as a Black woman, I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than me playing tennis. I don’t expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority White sport I consider that a step in the right direction.”
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) August 27, 2020
A few hours after Osaka’s announcement, pro tennis officials said play at the event would be paused Thursday and would resume Friday.
The 22-year-old said joining the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis this summer helped her understand how important it is to use her platform to inspire change.
"We visited the George Floyd Memorial and connected with those who came together to mourn yet another senseless act and life lost without reason," she told Esquire in July. "Being on the ground in Minneapolis was what felt right at that moment.
On Tuesday, the Detroit Lions football team replaced practice with a whiteboard reading of “The World Can Not Go On,” for reporters, The Detroit Free Press reports. On Wednesday night, Washington Football Team Coach Ron Rivera canceled Thursday’s practice for the team.
According to Bleacher Report, Los Angeles’ pro basketball teams have both voted against finishing the NBA playoffs. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and Lakers star LeBron James were both vocal about not returning to play, per Los Angeles Times reporter Brad Turner.
Sources: Lakers forward LeBron James and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard both spoke up in the players meeting Wednesday night and were adamant about not playing the rest of the playoffs and they wanted change. The players will have another meeting at 11 am East time Thursday.
— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) August 27, 2020
Although the vote was more of a poll than a final motion, the NBA has a Board of Governors meeting scheduled for Thursday morning to decide the fate of the playoffs, according to The Post.
Original story (August 26, 2020): The NBA has decided to postpone all of the games scheduled for Wednesday after multiple teams contemplated protesting in light of the Jacob Blake shooting. The Milwaukee Bucks were first to announce their decision to officially skip Game 5 of their first-round series Wednesday afternoon, according to ESPN.
The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to boycott Game 5, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020
Players for the number 1 seeded team never came out ahead of their 4 p.m. local time match against the Orlando Magic. Players for the Magic, however, were taking practice shots ahead of the previously scheduled game.
After NBA officials went into the locker room to see what was taking place, it was later announced that the team was going on strike.
NBA reporter Shams Charania tweeted that Bucks players were in the locker room attempting to contact Wisconsin Attorney general Josh Kaul about the Blake shooting.
Bucks players are in locker room attempting to reach the attorney general of Wisconsin, Josh Kaul, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA
@Stadium. Magic players are leaving the arena soon — not accepting the Bucks‘ forfeit.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 26, 2020
Milwaukee is about 45 minutes north of Kenosha, Wisconsin, the epicenter of the latest protests over police brutality and violence. The city has been the sight of ongoing protests since Sunday after police shot Blake multiple times in the back as his children watched, as Blavity previously reported.
Blake's family has said he is currently paralyzed and may never walk again, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
After the announcement from the Bucks, multiple teams announced that they, too, planned to sit out their next games, and by 5 p.m. the NBA announced that all of the games for Wednesday night had been postponed.
CNN has learned that all of tonight’s NBA games have been postponed.
— Coy Wire (@CoyWire) August 26, 2020
"F**K THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT," LeBron James
Since the NBA restarted its season after suspending games due to the coronavirus pandemic, league superstars have been outspoken about the protests over the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and others.
Multiple players have used press conferences before and after games to discuss social justice issues and racism. But in recent days, especially after the Blake shooting, some players told reporters they were exhausted and felt like they weren't doing enough.
"We're tired of the killings and the injustice," Bucks guard George Hill told The Undefeated.
As Blavity previously reported on Tuesday, James spoke candidly about the Blake shooting and its devastating impact on Black Americans.
"It’s just quite frankly f**ked up in our community. I know people get tired of hearing me say it, but we are scared as Black people in America. Black men, Black women, Black kids, we are terrified," he told reporters after the game.
Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet went even further on Tuesday, becoming one of the first players to openly discuss the idea of sitting out of the games to fully drive the point home. He told reporters that it would be particularly meaningful for the Bucks to participate in a strike because of the effect it might have on officials in Wisconsin.
"We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody. So, for example, this happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, if I'm correct?" VanVleet said.
"Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we're not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that's going to trickle down. If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney's office, and state's attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice," he added.
VanVleet went on to say that in order to force the kind of changes NBA players want, they will have to be willing to press the league and team owners.
"I know it's not that simple. But, at the end of the day, if we're gonna sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we're gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility. I'm just over the media aspect of it. It's sensationalized, we talk about it every day, that's all we see, but it just feels like a big pacifier to me," VanVleet said.
The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics were openly discussing not participating in the first game of their round two series before the Bucks made their move.
Celtics star Jaylen Brown spoke passionately about how the Blake shooting affected him, telling reporters on Tuesday that since he read about what happened it was hard to look at his jersey number and not think about Blake. Brown wears the number 7 which has been reported as the number of times Blake was shot.