There usually comes a time when actions are stronger than words. The Milwaukee Bucks subscribed to that thought on Wednesday afternoon when they failed to take the court for their game five playoff match-up with the Orlando Magic inside the NBA bubble near Orlando.
While the Magic was on the court warming up and the referee’s courtside, when the clock struck zero, the Bucks were nowhere to be found. They were in their locker room, with no intention of coming out anytime soon. Instead, they had decided not to play in light of the shooting of Jacob Blake by police on Sunday.
The Bucks, while in the locker room, were reportedly on a conference call with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes.
When the players eventually emerged, they issued a statement:
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
The Bucks then left and took no questions from reporters. The NBA then decided to postpone all three games that were scheduled to be played on Wednesday.
Now the NBA’s board of governors are scheduled to hold a special meeting Thursday morning. They’ll be discussing where to go from here with the NBA season. It’s possible they could have the remaining teams leave the bubble and cancel the rest of the playoffs.
The top-seeded Bucks entered the playoffs with hopes of winning an NBA Championship. That goal doesn’t seem to be very important at this time. But if this moment is a moment that truly sparks positive changes to social and racial justice, then it will certainly all be worth it.
Bucks forward Sterling Brown had his own issues with Milwaukee police in 2018 when he was tasered over a parking violation at a Walgreens. With a season potentially going by the wayside, with lost wages to boot, it would all be worth it if there is truly positive change in this state and country.