When soccer returned to play after shutting down for the novel coronavirus pandemic, players, teams and leagues around the world showed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It started in the Bundesliga, continued in the Premier League and was punctuated by the NWSL and MLS back stateside.
Now the NBA is showing soccer teams they could’ve gone even further.
With police still shooting unarmed Black men and women all across the country while taking extreme care to not harm armed white men, the Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly boycotting their NBA playoff game against the Orlando Magic.
On Sunday night, police were caught on camera repeatedly shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with family saying he is now paralyzed but should survive. A couple days later, a white man from 30 miles away was arrested and charged with first-degree homicide after two people were shot at protests against the police shooting.
The Bucks, from the same state, are in the midst of a first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic. Milwaukee, the best team during the regular season, lead the series 3-1. With the game set to tip off at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Bucks never came out to warm up and then did not come out of the locker room for tipoff.
The Milwaukee Bucks still haven't come out to the court for Game 6 with the Orlando Magic and there's been some discussion within the Bucks about a boycott, sources tell @malika_andrews and me. NBA officials have gone into the Milwaukee locker room.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 26, 2020
The Milwaukee Bucks confirmed this was a boycott afterword.
The Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted Game 5 of their First Round series vs. the Orlando Magic this afternoon.The team provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/ul5rMlitlS
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The NBA also confirmed all games today — including Thunder-Rockets and Trail Blazers-Lakers — were postponed.
The NBA and the NBPA today announced that in light of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to not take the floor today for Game 5 against the Orlando Magic, today’s three games – MIL-ORL, HOU-OKC and LAL-POR have been postponed. Game 5 of each series will be rescheduled.— NBA (@NBA) August 26, 2020
The WNBA stood in solidarity with the NBA and postponed all of its games on Wednesday night. MLS, however, issued a statement and allowed its games to continue.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 26, 2020
People in the timeline talking bout does this count as the bucks forfeiting the game.... WHO TF CARES! THIS SH*T BIGGER THAN A SPORT!!!— DeAndre Yedlin (@yedlinny) August 26, 2020
FUCK THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2020
The Milwaukee Bucks boycott is perhaps the most impactful use of protest from a professional team sports in American history. The only thing that might come close to being similar is Muhammad Ali sitting out for three years in protest of the Vietnam War and the draft.
There will, of course, be those who don’t want to see “politics” infiltrate their sports. To those people: fuck off. People are being murdered for nothing more than the color of their skin by a system of white supremacy prevalent in police across the U.S. This is a matter of human rights, not politics, and if you don’t think this is the right way to protest, then maybe you can come up with a better idea after 400 years of intense systemic racism throughout the country.
If some of the biggest soccer teams in the world took a stand as grand as this — actually walking off pitches and refusing to come back after instances of racial abuse, for instance — it might move the needle more toward an equal society. Nothing has really changed since George Floyd was murdered in May and Breonna Taylor’s murderers are pathetically still free. Larger-scale protests like this must be utilized to disrupt the status quo.
And right on time, people are coming out the woodwork to say that this isn't how you protest.You can't take a knee. You can't boycott. You can't speak frankly at a press conference. No disruptions from the norm. Nothing that would, even for a moment, draw attention to crisis. https://t.co/D1A7AtWHAf
— austin walker (@austin_walker) August 26, 2020
This is a drastic step, which hopefully will show America that drastic steps are necessary to create the necessary dialogue. Until you’ve been treated unfairly by police because of the color of your skin, you probably won’t understand. We must work together to solve this plague. https://t.co/sLSKyInJgT— Jose de Jesus Ortiz (@OrtizKicks) August 26, 2020
Obviously, multiple former teammates of Thabo Sefolosha, who had his leg broken by NYPD (!!!) are on the Bucks.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) August 26, 2020
We don’t have to remind you: If you live in America, vote.