The remainder of the 2020 NBA Playoffs may be in doubt following the Milwaukee Bucks' move to boycott Game 5 of their first-round series with the Orlando Magic in protest of racial injustice and police brutality. In the wake of the team's decision not to participate in the game, the league moved to postpone all of Wednesday's playoff action, and one veteran player reportedly told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that finishing the season is no longer a certainty.
Reporting via Twitter, Wojnarowski indicated that the player told him "the season is in jeopardy." He further reported that "emotions are raw" and that players who have been involved with the NBA's bubble environment restart at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, had already become worn out on the experience.
As shared earlier by The Inquisitr, the Bucks' boycott came specifically as a result of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was engaged by Kenosha Police Department officers after reportedly attempting to break up a fight. A video posted to Twitter on Sunday showed several officers surround Blake as he attempted to get into his car, eventually firing seven shots into his back.
According to USA Today, all seven shots came from the gun of Rusten Sheskey, a seven-year K.P.D. veteran.
The NBA's willingness to support the Black Lives Matter movement and provide a platform for players to raise awareness about racial issues and champion positive change on behalf of people of color was a major component in their own willingness to participate in the restart of the 2019-20 campaign amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many have worn messages advocating for social justice and racial equality on their jerseys throughout the restart, and the Black Lives Matter credo has been emblazoned onto the hardwood court throughout bubble play. Meanwhile, participants have utilized the opportunity to speak out on issues of inequality and the use of excessive force by police.
For his part, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers said that the gun problem in America makes Black people feel hunted in the wake of Blake's shooting.
Although there is some doubt about completing the season and players are meeting to discuss next steps in light of recent events, Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes tweeted that a large contingent of them are nonetheless advocating to finish the playoffs. According to Haynes, those players are citing the sacrifices that were made to enter the league's bubble, as well as a belief in the usefulness of the league's platform amid the current social climate.