All of tonight’s NBA playoff games have been postponed after the Milwakuee Bucks refused to take the court for their 1 p.m. CT home game in protest over the shooting of Jacob Blake by police in nearby Kenosha, WI.
Game 5 of the Bucks-Orlando Magic series initially was delayed after the Magic players came out on the court to warm up, but the Bucks didn’t. The Orlando squad eventually left. The Bucks’ arena, Fiserv Forum, is about 45 minutes from Kenosha.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that “every NBA players is invited to join a meeting ‘the bubble’ to discuss how they’re proceed from today’s boycotts.
Two later playoff games — Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers-Los Angeles Lakers — were scheduled to air on TNT tonight. A spokesman for the WarnerMedia cable net told Deadline, “TNT will have a 30-minute NBA on TNT show at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by entertainment programming,” See the network’s revised schedule below.
As news of the Bucks protest spread, enraged Lakers star LeBron James tweeted in all caps: “F*CK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”
In a pregame news conference before the protest, Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters: “It is a great challenge to have an appreciation and a desire to want change and want something better and different and better in Kenosha, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin … and then to go out and play a game.”
Later, when asked if he was talking about the Blake shooting, Budenholzer — who was wearing a T-shirt that read “Coaches for Racial Justice — said: “There’s a lot of concern, there’s a lot of conversation, there’s a lot of frustration. But I also think our players want to find a way to fight for better, and there’s lots of different ways to do that. I think everything’s under consideration.”
Bucks SVP Alex Lasry tweeted: “Some things are bigger than basketball. 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.”
Back in January, the Bucks stood behind their rookie player Sterling Brown after Milwaukee police used a stun gun on him after challenging Brown over a parking violation. The team released this statement at the time:
The abuse and intimidation that Sterling experienced at the hands of Milwaukee Police was shameful and inexcusable. Sterling has our full support as he shares his story and takes action to provide accountability.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. It shouldn’t require an incident involving a professional athlete to draw attention to the fact that vulnerable people in our communities have experienced similar, and even worse, treatment.
We are grateful for the service of many good police officers that courageously protect us, our fans and our city, but racial biases and abuses of power must not be ignored.
There needs to be more accountability.
The Milwaukee Police Department and local officials have acknowledged the challenges they are working to address, and we urge them to enact higher standards and more direct accountability. We all want to be able to trust each and every officer serving to protect us.
Incidents like this remind us of the injustices that persist. As an organization, we will support Sterling and build on our work with local leaders and organizations to foster safe neighborhoods and better our community.
Rebecca Haarlow, a reporter for NBA TV, which was to carry today’s Bucks-Magic game, tweeted this from the arena during the initial delay:
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, always-outspoken Inside the NBA co-host Charles Barkley wondered what the players’ next move will be. “They said ‘rescheduled’ — I’m not sure what that means because we got games every day,” he said. “I wanna know what the players are going to do next. That would be my first question. I think it’s courageous whjat the Milwaukee Bucks did today. I think the other players had no choice but to stand with those guys, but I just want to know what the game plan is for games tomorrow and going forward.”
Here is TNT’s updated programming schedule for tonight (all times Eastern):
6: 30 p.m. – Inside the NBA
7 p.m. – The Longest Yard
9:30 p.m. – Blended
12 a.m. – The Longest Yard