In the wake of the Bucks’ decision to boycott Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Magic, the Thunder and Rockets will follow suit and boycott Game 5 of their series this evening, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).
The Lakers and Trail Blazers, who were scheduled to play Game 5 of their series later tonight, are also boycotting, according to Charania (via Twitter). Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports first reported (via Twitter) that Portland and L.A. were leaning toward not playing tonight’s game.
The protests are a response to the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Raptors and Celtics, who are scheduled to play Game 1 of their second-round series on Thursday, had been the first teams to broach the topic of a boycott. Raptors guard Fred VanVleet explained the thinking behind the idea to reporters earlier this week.
“We knew coming here or not coming here was not going to stop anything, but I think ultimately playing or not playing puts pressure on somebody,” VanVleet said, per Malika Andrews and Tim Bontemps of eSPN. “So, for example, this happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, if I’m correct? Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we’re not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that’s going to trickle down. If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney’s office, and state’s attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice.
“I know it’s not that simple. But, at the end of the day, if we’re gonna sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we’re gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility.”
Bringing attention to social justice issues and systemic racism was among the players’ primary goals when they agreed to the NBA’s restart plan this summer. However, in the wake of the latest shooting of a Black man by police, a number of players felt as if their efforts to raise awareness and enact change were being overshadowed by on-court results and have decided to change their tactics.