The Milwaukee Bucks staged a dramatic boycott of their NBA playoff game with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday (Aug 26) following outrage across the league after the latest shooting of an unarmed black man by US police.
Multiple US media reports said the Bucks had refused to play game five of their Eastern Conference first round series in protest at the shooting of African-American Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Sunday.
“We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks player George Hill was quoted by The Undefeated website as saying.
ESPN and the Washington Post also reported the Bucks boycott.
There was no immediate comment from the NBA about the status of Wednesday’s game following the Bucks unprecedented no-show.
The status of other games scheduled for Wednesday also remained unclear.
The Athletic website reported that the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder planned to boycott their game.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James – whose club was due to face the Portland Trail Blazers later on Wednesday – tweeted: “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”
The Bucks were due to take the court for game five of their Eastern Conference first-round series shortly after 4.10pm local time (4.10am on Thursday, Singapore time) but did not appear.
Magic players appeared on court and were ready to play but returned to their locker room, reports said.
The no-show follows widespread anger throughout the NBA after the shooting of 29-year-old Blake.
Blake was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha as he attempted to get into a car containing his three children, sparking protests that left two people dead.
Earlier on Wednesday, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse said his players and counterparts from the Boston Celtics had discussed a possible boycott of their playoff game set for Thursday.
“Boycotting the game has come up to them to demand a little more attention,” Nurse said. “It is ongoing discussions. I think it is one idea on the table. There are some other ideas on the table as well.”
The NBA’s coronavirus-halted season resumed last month in Orlando against the backdrop of protests following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd during his arrest by police in Minneapolis in May.
NBA teams have knelt in protest during the pre-match playing of the US national anthem while the words “Black Lives Matter” have been painted onto each court staging games in Florida.
Blake’s shooting on Sunday has been greeted with disgust by players and coaches across the league.
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the shooting was “horrifying”.
“We talked about it in our team meeting,” Stevens said.
“Our thoughts are with Jacob Blake and his family and obviously that video was horrifying, awful. To think of three kids being in that car. It’s ridiculous.
“Everybody is shaken… there’s a reason why the coaches, players and everyone here has chosen to emphasise social justice and equality.
“These are hard times. With the pandemic going on, with this constant wave of inequality – it’s maddening.”
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers contrasted the shooting with the fearful rhetoric at this week’s Republican Party convention.
“All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear,” Rivers said.
“We’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. We’re the ones that are denied to live in certain communities.
“We’ve been hung, we’ve been shot. All you do is keep hearing about fear. It’s amazing to me why we keep loving this country and this country does not love us back.”