The story by the end of the 2020 NBA playoffs inside the bubble was the Los Angeles Lakers winning the championship, but well before that happened, one of the biggest moments in sports history occurred.
Following a police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. It ultimately led to the rest of the players and teams following suit and all games being postponed for a number of days.
One player who was very close to that entire situation was Wesley Matthews, at the time a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. Matthews additionally spent four years at Marquette University and hails from Wisconsin.
Ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers concluding their road trip with a matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies, news came out that prosecutors made the decision to not file charges against the officers involved in the Blake shooting.
“It’s disheartening. Truly, it’s disheartening just for all the work that everybody put in. The heartache of the families involved, the kids involved in the car, the city that rallied around the community. It’s just about right and wrong,” Matthews said.
“But this can’t deter those citizens who were trying to do right, were trying to fight for equality, were trying to fight for the right things. It can’t deter us, we can’t lose our heads, we can’t start rioting. We have to be calculated. We have to continue to keep our foot on the pedal, we have to continue to keep our foot on the gas.
“We can vote and do all those things with the President, but at the same time we’ve got to make sure that we protect our state and vote in state and understand what is going on is real. This isn’t made up. This isn’t a lie. This isn’t fabricated. This is life.
“These are lives right here. It’s upsetting as a Wisconsinite, it’s upsetting as a human being that justice isn’t justice. It’s tough, but it can’t knock us off the path that we’re trying to get to, which is equality. And just simply right and wrong. Just humanity. That’s all it is.”
The Blake incident served as a launching point for different initiatives coming from the NBA and its players.
LeBron James’ “More than a Vote” initiative was already in the works, but has gotten a lot of attention for all of the work it has done in different communities. Additionally, numerous players from different teams worked to get in touch with lawmakers of their states and try and get different laws voted on and passed.
While the decision may be disheartening in the eyes of Matthews and many others, it did push many in the league to get active about making serious changes throughout their communities. It is important that they don’t allow these movements to fall by the wayside despite this decision in Kenosha not going the way they would have liked.
LeBron James echoes Matthews
While expressing similar disappointment, James joined Matthews in calling for the continued efforts to create equality.
“To hear what happened in Kenosha was a blow to the heart and to the gut. Not only to that community, but to us and every Black person that has been a part of this process and seen these outcomes for so long. And not only in the Black community, but also the white community as well,” James said.
“To see that verdict was a blow to the gut and heart. We’ve got to continue to stay strong, continue to believe in each other and continue to push for the greater good. I’m definitely going to get some more information on it but I heard they turned out in Georgia, and that’s commendable.
“It’s something we started with More Than A Vote and we want to continue to do that and support actions like this. I’m proud of my people for getting out there and doing what they do best. That’s being heard, being seen, being powerful and being engaged.”
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