LeBron James Demands Change As Milwaukee Bucks Boycott Playoffs After Jacob Blake Shooting

The Milwaukee Bucks made the unprecedented move of boycotting their playoff game against the Magic in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Now LeBron James and other NBA stars are showing support.

UPDATE (8/26/20 7:58pm ET): The Milwaukee Bucks united as a team to explain why they boycotted their playoff game against the Magic. “The past four months have shined a light on the racial injustices facing our African American community, and citizens around the country who have used their voices to speak out against these wrongdoings. In 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 shooting of protesters. Despite the plea for change there has been no action. So our focus today cannot be on basketball,” player Sterling Brown read aloud to reporters. Sterling himself was a victim of police brutality in an incident caught on tape in a 2018 (see below).

For the Milwaukee Bucks, the shooting of unarmed Black man Jacob Blake by a Kenosha, WI police officer is the last straw. While the league has been fully supporting NBA players’ support of the Black Lives Matter movement throughout their truncated season, the Bucks decided to boycott their game five playoff match against the Orlando Magic on Aug. 26. As a show of support for the Bucks’ bold move, the Magic refused to accept the game as a forfeit, allowing the match to take place at a later time so that they could allow the Bucks’ decision to reverberate throughout the league and nation.

Milwaukee has now become the first NBA franchise in the league’s history to boycott a game over social justice issues. After the Bucks’ decision to not take the court, the NBA Players Association announced that all playoff games on Aug. 26 would be rescheduled, including match ups between Houston and Oklahoma City, and the L.A. Lakers and Portland Trailblazers. The game five of each series will now take place at a later date.

Fellow NBA players applauded the Bucks’ move to not play in protest of Blake’s shooting, which has left him paralyzed. On Aug. 23, Blake, 29, was entering his vehicle after trying to break up a fight and was shot from behind seven times by a Kenosha police officer. The shooting was caught on tape and has sparked two nights of riots in the city, which is only 45 minutes outside of Milwaukee.

Just as the Bucks were making their decision to not take the court, L.A. Lakers superstar LeBron James tweeted “F**K THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT,” regarding police violence against unarmed Black citizens. He had earlier tweeted out his anger over Blake’s shooting on Aug. 24, along with bystander video of it all going down. Bron wrote, “And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted. This s*t is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE.”

Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell cheered on Milwaukee’s decision, tweeting,”WE DEMAND CHANGE! SALUTE @Bucks.” On Aug. 24, a day after Blake’s shooting, Donovan tweeted how the NBA playoffs don’t matter when unarmed Black Americans continue to be victimized by the police. “F THE GAMES AND PLAYOFFS!!! THIS IS SICK AND IS A REAL PROBLEM WE DEMAND JUSTICE! ITS CRAZY I DONT HAVE ANY WORDS BUT WTF MAN! THIS IS WHY WE DONT FEEL SAFE!!!!” he wrote.

LeBron James
Lakers superstar LeBron James said he’s had enough of police violence and brutality against Black citizens. Photo credit: AP Images.

The Bucks’ superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was just voted the league’s MVP and Defense Player of the Year on Aug. 25. For him and his team to become the first squad to refuse to take part in a playoff game due to social justice reasons is huge. The team already has shown their support and leadership for the Black Lives Matter movement, becoming the first NBA squad to take part in a protest march following George Floyd‘s May 25 killing by of a Minneapolis Police officer.

In 2018 Bucks player Sterling Brown was the victim of alleged police brutality, and filed a civil suit against City of Milwaukee and its police department, alleging he was “unlawfully stopped, subject to racist language, beaten and then subsequently tasered in a parking lot.” Video even showed Sterling in a calm and non-threatening manner right before five officers suddenly wrestled the 6’6″ shooting guard to the ground and began tasering him, with the then-rookie screaming in excruciating pain. After the tape was released, the city’s mayor and police chief said they were “disturbed” by what they saw on tape. So police brutality really hits home for the Bucks’ squad.

The Bucks’s team owners later came out with a statement fully supporting their players’ decision to boycott their game, but adding they did not know about it before hand. The owners added that “we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”

ESPN reports that the Milwaukee Bucks were on a conference call in their locker room with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, regarding Blake’s shooting case. Also in response to the police shooting of Blake, the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers have postponed their Aug. 26 game against the Cincinnati Reds in support of the Bucks’ action and demanding justice for Jacob. 

The WNBA decided to not play any of their scheduled games on Aug. 26 after the NBA’s decision. The Atlanta Dream’s Elizabeth Williams read a statement saying, “The consensus is to not play in tonight’s slate of games and to kneel, lock arms and raise fists during the national anthem.” 

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