UPDATE: The NBA’s playoff games will resume Saturday, following new discussions between the players and the league. Read the joint NBA and NBPA statement below:
All three of Wednesday’s NBA playoff games, including the fixture between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers, have been postponed due to player strikes over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, Variety has confirmed.
The news emerged shortly after the Milwaukee Bucks team decided not to take the court for its game with the Orlando Magic.
Tip-off between the two teams was scheduled for 1 p.m. PT, but the Bucks remained in the locker rooms. The Magic had been warming up for the game, but then left the court when it became clear their opponents weren’t coming out.
Here’s the official announcement from the NBA obtained by Variety:
“The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – Bucks vs. Magic, Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers – have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.”
Blake was shot seven times by a police officer earlier this week as he was trying to get into his car. The shooting, which has left Blake partially paralyzed according to his family, was captured on video, and has led to large-scale protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Those protests have resulted in two people being killed, and one being seriously injured in multiple shootings.
The Bucks team issued a statement demanding “justice for Jacob Blake” and calling on the Wisconsin State Legislature to “take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.”
Reporters from The Athletic and ESPN claim that the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers voted to continue striking for the entire NBA season, though it’s unclear whether the vote was final. Discussions between the teams will reportedly continue on Thursday, on which playoff games could also be called off.
A number of MLB games are also not being played due to player protests, including the evening clash between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, Variety has confirmed with sources. The Milwaukee Brewers decided to go on strike for their game with the Cincinnati Reds, and the Seattle Mariners have done the same ahead of their game with the San Diego Padres.
Mariners second baseman Dee Gordon confirmed the decision on Twitter.
On the WNBA front, three games (namely Washington vs. Atlanta, Los Angeles vs. Minnesota, and Connecticut vs. Phoenix) were postponed Wednesday for the same reasons.
Major League Soccer postponed five of its matches, including matchups between the LA Galaxy and Seattle, Miami and Atlanta, Dallas and Colorado, Real Salt Lake and LAFC, and San Jose and Portland.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka announced she’d pull out of the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open in New York City.
Plenty of current and former NBA stars took to social media to share their support for the player strike, including Lakers leader LeBron James.
Utah Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell tweeted, “We demand change! Salute Bucks.”
Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray wrote “We demand justice!!!” on Twitter in the wake of Bucks’ strike.
The NBA playoffs have been taking place in a bubble environment in Orlando due to COVID-19. Many players have been kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.
Since its re-start, the NBA has come under fire from President Trump for the players’ protests, with the President claiming that the league’s ratings have been down as a result.