NBA players vote to end playoffs boycott sparked by police shooting

The NBA season will go ahead after another meeting of the teams and players who remain in the NBA’s Orlando bubble.

The decision came a day after players boycotted matches in protest against the shooting of black man Jacob Blake at the hands of a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The shooting occurred when Mr Blake entered his vehicle. He was shot seven times in the back by police officer Rusten Sheskey, leaving Mr Blake paralysed.

Despite the decision to resume the Playoffs, matches scheduled for Thursday (local time) between the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, LA Clippers and Dallas Mavericks and the Eastern Conference semi-final opener between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have been postponed.

While there is no set time for when the Playoffs will return, ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said it could be as soon as Friday, he was backed up by several other sources familiar with the talks.

It is expected that two players from each team will attend another meeting on Thursday afternoon (local time), while there has been no statement from the NBA or its Board of Governors, who were also meeting on Thursday.

The season was put on hold on Wednesday when the Milwaukee Bucks refused to take to the court for game 5 of their opening-round Playoff series against the Orlando Magic.

Lakers players, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, take a knee while arm in arm, wearing a "BLACK LIVES MATTER" shirt

Lakers players, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, take a knee while arm in arm, wearing a "BLACK LIVES MATTER" shirt

NBA players have repeatedly worn Black Lives Matter shirts since the league restart.(AP: Mike Ehrmann)

The decision reportedly took the opposing Magic by surprise and veteran Bucks players George Hill and Sterling Brown then read a prepared statement to the media.

“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities,” it read.

“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 protestors.

“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.

Kushner reaches out to LeBron after criticism

The announcement to resume the season came hours after White House Adviser Jared Kushner said he would reach out to Lakers star LeBron James following the boycott.

“I think that it’s nice that they’re standing up for the issue, but I’d like to see them start moving into concrete solutions that are productive. And again, President Trump in this White House is willing to work with them,” Mr Kushner said in an interview with Politico.

His comments to Politico came after he said in a separate interview with CNBC that the players were “fortunate” to be able to “take a night off from work without having to have the consequences to themselves financially”.

At this stage James has not publicly responded and he has in the past been critical of Mr Trump, and previously accused him of trying to use sports to divide Americans.

James, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday: “We demand change. Sick of it” in relation to the latest police shooting.

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He followed that up on Thursday by tweeting “Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW!”

Timeline of events leading up to NBA postponement

  • May 25, 2020 — Black man George Floyd is killed by a Minnesota police officer who kneels on his neck for eight minutes as Floyd says “I can’t breathe”. His death sparks protests in the United States about social and racial inequalities and police violence
  • June 1, 2020— With the season on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, several NBA stars, including Boston’s Jaylen Brown, take part in Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the killing of Mr Floyd. Brown drives 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to attend
  • July 30, 2020 — The NBA season restarts with players who are benched showing solidarity by wearing black shirts with “Black Lives Matter” written on them. Players also wear jerseys which no longer contain their names, but messages about racial injustice and equality in multiple languages
  • August 18, 2020 — Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James dons a modified MAGA hat in a post-match press conference after his team loses game 1 of their series against the Portland Trailblazers. The hat reads “Make America Arrest the Cops who Killed Breonna Taylor”, in reference to the March 13 shooting death of Ms Taylor in Louisiana.

    Her death came at the hands of police who were searching her apartment as they executed a “no-knock” search warrant in relation to a drug investigation.

    Officers, who did not announce themselves as police, engaged in a shoot-out with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, a licenced gun owner. Ms Taylor was shot eight times

  • August 23, 2020 — Black man Jacob Blake is shot in the back seven times by police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leaving him paralysed
  • August 26, 2020 — Two people are killed and another injured during protests in Kenosha. Police arrest a 17-year-old white male
  • August 26, 2020 — The Milwaukee Bucks, the top team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, refuse to come out for game 5 of their first-round Playoff series with the Orlando Magic. George Hill and Sterling Brown read statements to the media.
  • August 26, 2020 — Remaining matches for the day between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and Lakers and Trailblazers are postponed
  • August 26, 2020 — Players in the NBA bubble reportedly hold a tense meeting where, according to multiple reports, the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers vote to boycott the season
  • August 26, 2020 — James takes to Twitter and posts “F**k this man!!!! We demand change. Sick of it,” in relation to the killings of African Americans by police
  • August 27, 2020 — NBA players vote to resume the season, but it remains unclear when that will be with the day’s scheduled matches postponed

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