The Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers were scheduled to play Game 5 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night, with the former having the chance to close it out and advance to the next round.
But starting with the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA players took the world by storm by deciding to boycott their games after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Wisconsin. It forced the league to postpone the day’s games.
All of the NBA players in the Orlando Bubble met on Wednesday night to discuss their next course of action, with the Lakers and L.A. Clippers, arguably the two teams with the best chance to win the championship, reportedly being the only two to vote against finishing the season.
After sleeping on it and meeting again Thursday morning, it appears the Lakers and Clippers shifted course, and all of the players voted to finish out the season. They still want to take action against racial injustice though, and want the owners to help the cause as well.
All of Thursday’s games have been also postponed, and while it is not yet set in stone when the Lakers will return to the court, Saturday appears to be the day, according to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
Details are still being finalized but it's looking likely that Game 5 of the Lakers' first-round series against the Trail Blazers will be on Saturday.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) August 27, 2020
While the players did not go to the extreme of sitting out the rest of the season, boycotting games for the first time in league history should make it clear that they want action right away.
The NBA’s Board of Governors also met on Thursday morning, so it will be interesting to see what the next steps they and the players take are.
Lakers make statement advocating the end of racial violence
Led by LeBron James, the Lakers organization has been at the forefront of a lot of these social justice issues in recent months. After their players decided to boycott Wednesday night’s game, the Lakers released a statement to shot their support.
“We stand with our players and the players of the NBA in their demand for justice and the end of racial violence. Eighty percent of NBA players are Black men,” they said.
“We cannot love them for the joy and entertainment that they bring to the world, yet sit in silence and fail to use our platforms and resources to amplify their voices when they demand the justice and equality that America has promised us all, but denied Black people for too long.
“In 2020 alone, we have been made to bear witness to the killings of numerous unarmed Black men and women at the hands of the police, as well as private “vigilantes.” Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Jacob Blake. We must continue to say their names. But now is also the time for us to say enough.”
While the Lakers have championship aspirations this season, it is clear that they also have bigger goals in mind that go beyond the basketball court.
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