After the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, NBA players were once again outraged after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The incident prompted numerous players both in and out of the bubble to speak about the issue, with the common message being more demands for action and change. The Milwaukee Bucks, who play only 40 miles from Kenosha, took the first step in deciding to sit out their Game 5 matchup against the Orlando Magic.
Their decision was monumental and the rest of the teams slated to play that night, including the Los Angeles Lakers, stood in solidarity and agreed to not take the floor. A demonstration of this magnitude reportedly came as a surprise to the league office, owners and front offices but so far the players have received nothing but support from their organizations.
However, with the situation fresh on everyone’s minds and the players clearly reeling, there were concerns that the remainder of the season could be cancelled. Upon holding a second meeting, the players decided to continue with the playoffs, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The NBA's players have decided to resume the playoffs, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 27, 2020
Immediately after news broke of the players’ decision to sit out, it was reported there would be meeting to discuss next steps with the league on how to proceed. That led to LeBron James reportedly being a driving force in the Lakers and L.A. Clippers voting to boycott the playoffs.
The league found itself in the middle of a pivotal moment because whatever they decide could cause a domino effect for not just basketball, but sports as a whole. For now, the country is watching how matters will proceed.
Anthony Davis discusses difficulty of playing in playoffs during social unrest
As James’ teammate, Anthony Davis has begun to learn more about what it takes to be a leader with a voice. So far, Davis has credited James with helping him use his platform more and raise awareness of matters that are important to him and his community.
Like his teammates, the All-Star has spoken out on some of the issues facing African-Americans and he opened up about what it is like to be playing in the postseason right now. “I think when we’re on the floor, our main focus is to win a basketball game,” Davis recently said.
“When we’re off the floor, our main focus is to continue to push the envelope on social justice and creating change. Our organization and team are constantly having talks on how to do that. It’s obviously difficult for us not to be able to be outside this bubble and help create change physically, but we’re doing the best we can inside the bubble.
“I think all our leaders that are here are helping in that manner. We can’t lose sight of what’s going on in the outside world. Even though we’re playing a game that we love and are competing for a championship, at the same time what happened (with Jacob Blake) kind of put everything into perspective.
“It is a basketball game, but we still have things going on outside the bubble that’s real life. The more we can do to help bring attention and awareness to those situations and the more we can help use our voices, the better off we can be. We try to keep everything in perspective. When we’re not on the court, our minds are definitely on trying to figure out ways to help.”
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