3:46pm: Bucks players are in their locker room attempting to contact Josh Kaul, the attorney general of Wisconsin, reports Charania (via Twitter). According to Charania, the Magic are refusing to accept the Bucks’ forfeit of today’s game.
“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Alex Lasry, the Bucks’ senior vice president and son of team owner Marc Lasry, said in a statement (via Twitter). “The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen. I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100% behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”
3:21pm: Bucks players have decided to boycott Game 5 of their first-round series against the Magic this afternoon in protest of the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links).
As the Magic took the court for pregame warmups this afternoon, the Bucks remained in their locker room, prompting Orlando players and the game’s referees to eventually leave the floor. Charania and Wojnarowski reported that the Bucks were seriously considering a boycott as league and team officials gathered outside the team’s locker room.
The shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is less than 50 miles south of Milwaukee.
The Bucks met before practice on Tuesday to discuss the incident and other social and racial justice issues, as Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details. Multiple players expressed reservations about being in the NBA’s Disney World bubble with more important things going on, with George Hill suggesting that players should never have gone to Orlando to restart the season.
“I think it was said by multiple people there’s nothing more important than getting social justice and getting the wrongs that are happening in our country right and creating real and lasting change,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said of the meeting. “There’s literally nothing more important.”
It’s also worth noting that Bucks swingman Sterling Brown has first-hand experience with police brutality and racial profiling, having been tased and arrested by Milwaukee police officers over a parking violation in 2018. He has an ongoing lawsuit against the city, alleging that the officers used excessive force and targeted him because he is Black.
Earlier reports had indicated that NBA players – particularly members of the Celtics and Raptors – were mulling the possibility of boycotting games. Now that the Bucks have done so, it’s unclear what sort of domino effect the decision might have or how exactly the league will handle it.
As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter) the NBA’s Operations Manual includes “failure to appear” language that would subject a team to a forfeit and a fine of up to $5MM. However, that doesn’t mean those penalties will be applied in this situation — especially if this isn’t the last game to be boycotted.