written by: will Pembroke
This past week, the NBA made history by boycotting playoff games in favor of standing up to systemic racism and police brutality.
Following the hostile police encounter which occurred in Kenosha, Wis., protests once again spiked all over the country in support of Jacob Blake who was shot seven times by Kenosha police.
Amidst the wave of unrest, the Milwaukee Bucks were scheduled to play their fifth playoff game against the Orlando Magic on Aug 26th.
There had been rumors from the night before that players from both the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors were looking to sit out their game the next day.
Those rumors quickly turned into reality when the Bucks decided not to suit up, opting to remain in the locker room to contact the Wisconsin attorney general, among other top-ranking officials, to try to create change.
Shortly after the Bucks forfeited the NBA postponed the rest of the games that night and began searching for the answer to the question to follow: what now?
The mainstream news media went into a frenzy with people both praising the players for doing what was right in that moment and bringing awareness to an ongoing crisis. Others expressed their confusion as to the reasoning for this boycott, which at first seemed to not have much direction.
Following the postponement of games that evening, a number of different meetings ensued. The NBA Players Association (NBPA) held a massive gathering to determine whether players wanted to continue the season.
All but two teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, voted to continue, citing the effectiveness of the social justice messages which were able to be shared while games were played.
Lakers forward and NBA superstar LeBron James was reported to be sternly opposed to continuing the season. His frustration stemmed from what he felt was a lack of action by NBA governors to forward the Black Lives Matter movement and create meaningful change.
Following the NBAPA’s meeting, the NBA Board of Governors, also known as the owners, met to discuss what was going on.
Charlotte Hornets majority owner Michael Jordan, the only Black majority owner in the NBA, was reported to be the voice of reason among the owners, encouraging them to let the players express themselves instead of jumping in to try and force them to play right away.
Jordan played the role of a mediator between the players and the owners, seeking to create common ground which would accomplish both creating meaningful change, and allow the players to feel good enough to restart the playoffs.
After three days of work stoppage, the league agreed on three agenda items to pursue moving forward.
The first item was to establish a social justice coalition to tackle issues of systemic racism and police brutality.
Second, owners agreed to work with city officials to convert all 30 NBA arenas into voting sites for citizens on election day.
Finally, the league promised to hold advertisements during games to help raise awareness for voting access and opportunity in local communities.
Now that the NBA has resumed its playoffs, it will be interesting to see how this situation develops both for the players, who may not be not feeling content with the state of the country, and for owners who are running low on patience as the league loses money on a daily basis due to he money they’re paying for the bubble. This situation may evolve further.