(Orlando) The act of protest against racial injustice is as strong as it is unprecedented in American professional sport: some NBA players have decided to boycott the three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday, in reaction to police fire on Jacob Blake.
The Milwaukee – Orlando, Houston – Oklahoma City and Los Angeles (Lakers) –Portland games "have been postponed in light of the Milwaukee Bucks' decision not to play their fifth meeting against the Orlando Magic," announced the instance, without specifying their reprogramming date.
The kneeling down during the national anthem, the words Black Lives Matter painted in black on the floors, the messages and slogans on the back of the players' shirts, their regular speeches to demand justice, were since the resumption of the season a month ago, proof of the general mobilization among players, and within the league, to work for change in a country plagued by racism.
The tragedy experienced by Jacob Blake, this 29-year-old African-American, seriously injured during his arrest on Sunday, which should leave him paralyzed for life, has had the effect of an immeasurable shock on the stars of the orange ball, who , from their Disney World bubble, followed with a bruised heart this new act of police violence against blacks.
So they decided to act harder - luckily on the calendar, four years to the day after the first protest against police violence against blacks, by football player Colin Kaepernick who had sat down during the anthem, before kneel first time on 1 st September -.
" WE ARE FED UP "
And it was the players of the Bucks - whose franchise is based in Milwaukee, about fifty kilometers from Kenosha where the drama on Sunday took place - who, the first, decided not to play this 5 th game which, in case of victory, would qualify them for the semi-finals of the Eastern Association.
At The Athletic, Bucks back George Hill explained, “We're tired of these murders and injustice. The team will not play this (Wednesday) night against Orlando after the shots on Jacob Blake in Kenosha ”.
He and the other NBA players were traumatized by this terrible scene filmed on Sunday. We hear seven shots fired hitting this father in the back, who was trying to get into his car where, according to his lawyer, were three of his children, boys aged 3, 5 and 8 years old.
In the wake of this boycott, which the Magic players did not want to follow, according to several media, the players of the other two evening games decided to do the same.
Lakers superstar LeBron James had tweeted a few minutes earlier: “WE CALL FOR CHANGE. ON EN A MARRE ”, announcing the rest.
Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss showed her solidarity: “I was delighted to see us play, hoping to complete our series against Portland. But I support our players, today and always. After more than 400 years of cruelty, racism and injustice, we must all work together to say enough is enough ”.
Towards a boycott of the season?
The NBA referees union has also expressed its “solidarity […] to protest against the unjustified and continuous murder of black men and women by the police. There are bigger issues in our country than basketball and we hope that will inspire change ”.
In recent hours, other players had raised the possibility of not playing their next game, including those of Toronto and Boston supposed to start their semi-final of the Eastern Association on Thursday.
The boycott of their game by the Milwaukee players has a good chance of appealing to others. And that could spread oil in other sports, such as baseball, since the Milwaukee Brewers have announced they will not play this Wednesday night at home against the Cincinnati Reds either.
It remains to be seen how far basketball players will go to make themselves heard. Some are considering leaving Florida and dropping out of the championship mid-season, according to The Athletic.
In the meantime, the boycott of these games is unprecedented in the history of American professional basketball, whose players did not immediately stop playing after the death of Martin Luther King in 1968, if not the then declared National Day of Mourning. by President Lyndon B. Johnson.