With so much civil unrest in the country, it was a valid question as to whether or not the NBA and NBPA should have gone ahead with their plan to restart the 2019-20 season.
During the seeding games and playoffs, players have chosen to use every media availability to raise awareness about issues of social injustice and systematic racism. Proceeding with games allowed the players more of a platform to voice their opinions and they have done so whenever the cameras and microphones were turned on.
The Black Lives Matter movement picked up even more steam after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In response to the incident, the Milwaukee Bucks made an emphatic statement to sit out Game 5 against the Orlando Magic.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers quickly followed suit, agreeing to stage a boycott of their own Game 5 matchup. Shortly after their decision was announced, Jeanie Buss took to Twitter to announce she supported their choice:
I was excited to see us play – and hopefully close out our series – tonight. But I stand behind our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we all need to work together to say enough is enough. #JusticeForJacobBlake #WeHearYou
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) August 26, 2020
This is a monumental moment not just for the NBA, but for professional sports as a whole as this is an unprecedented event. Sitting out games directly affects league revenue, making Adam Silver’s response paramount in what the future of the playoffs looks like.
It is clear the players in the bubble understand that basketball needs to take a backseat to what is happening in the United States and hopefully their decision to strike finally creates some of the change that is desperately needed.
LeBron James on shooting of Jacob Blake
LeBron James, with his platform, has not been shy about speaking out on issues and so far he has continued that work inside the bubble.
After their Game 4 win against the Blazers, James spoke at length about the Blake incident and how it has affected him and the Black community.
“What I can say is if you’re sitting here telling me there was no way to subdue that gentleman or detain him before the firing of guns, then you’re sitting here and lying to not only me but every African-American, every Black person in the community,” he expressed.
“We see it over and over and over. If you watch the video, there were multiple moments where if they wanted to they could’ve tackled him. They could’ve grabbed him. They could’ve done that. Why does it always have to get to a point where we see the guns firing? His family is there, kids are there, it’s in broad daylight. If that video is not being taken by that person across the street, do we even know if we see that video? There’s talks about the cops didn’t have their body cams on; that’s a possibility.
“Quite frankly it’s just [expletive] 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.
“That’s what it feels like. It hurts. It’s through the grace of God that he’s still living. Seven shots close range, and he’s still alive? That’s through the grace of God right there. My prayers go out to that family and community, but I’ve got nothing nice to say about those cops at all.”
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