UPDATE: 4:55 p.m. ET on 8/27: After holding a meeting on Thursday morning with NBA owners, league executives, and coaches, NBA players have reportedly agreed to resume the 2020 playoffs, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Multiple teams, led by the Milwaukee Bucks, went on strike Wednesday night in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Although the NBA season isn't canceled — which seemed like a possibility Wednesday night, after the Clippers and Lakers apparently pushed to end the season — Thursday's games will not be played as scheduled, and a date to resume the playoffs is still being determined. According to NBA Executive Vice President Mike Bass, it will likely be this weekend.
"NBA playoff games for today will not be played as scheduled. We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday," Bass said in a statement. "There is a video conference call meeting scheduled later this afternoon between a group of NBA players and team governors representing the 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association and the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman Michael Jordan, to discuss next steps."
Wojnarowski said that the meetings are also expected to "include plans of action moving forward on social justice issues."
UPDATE: 7:25 p.m. ET on 8/26: In solidarity with the NBA, WNBA players have also decided to strike and sit out Wednesday's games in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Atlanta Dream forward Elizabeth Williams delivered the following statement on behalf of WNBA players to ESPN.
"After speaking with representatives from the teams playing tonight as well as the WNBPA leadership, the consensus is to not play in tonight's slate of games and to kneel, lock arms, and raise fists during the national anthem. We stand in solidarity with our brothers in the NBA and will continue this conversation with our brothers and sisters across all leagues and look to take collective action.
What we have seen over the last few months and most recently with the brutal police shooting of Jacob Blake is overwhelming. While we hurt for Jacob and his community, we also have an opportunity to keep the focus on the issues and demand change. These moments are why its important for our fans to stay focused, hear our voices, know our hearts, and connect the dots from what we say to what we do.
We encourage everyone to go and register to vote, now, today. If you truly believe that Black Lives Matter then vote. Go and complete the 2020 census now. Don't wait. If we wait, we don't make change. It matters. Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Do all you can to demand that your leaders stop with the empty words and do something. This is the reason for the 2020 season. It is in our DNA. We have been saying her name. We are lifting the names of black and brown women whose murders have been forgotten. We will continue to use our platform to speak of these injustices that are still happening and demand action for change. Black Lives Mater. Say her name. Say his name. Tonight we stand. While we have heavy hearts, we sand with strong and determined voices and ask all of our fans to vote, to engage, and to make that difference."
UPDATE: NBA teams are striking during all games Wednesday. The Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trailblazers-Los Angeles Lakers games will not be played Wednesday. The games will be rescheduled.
If you tuned in to watch the Milwaukee Bucks try to close out the Orlando Magic in the first round of the NBA Playoffs Wednesday afternoon, all you saw was an empty court. But there was nothing empty about the statement being made.
The Bucks went on strike ahead of Game 5 of their playoff series by not taking the court as a form of protest after the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake, who was unarmed and had his back turned to three police officers after trying to defuse a fight in Kenosha, Wisconsin, when officers shot him. Blake's three children were nearby and saw the shooting, which Blake's lawyer says has left the man paralyzed and fighting for his life. Protests have occurred in Kenosha in the three nights since, with two protesters killed and one more shot after a suspect opened fire on a crowd Tuesday night. A 17-year-old has since been arrested and charged with homicide.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The NBA has become a focal point of the Black Lives Matter movement, with players wearing slogans of positivity and equality on their jerseys, donning Black Lives Matter warmups, and displaying "Black Lives Matter" prominently on the court. Players have been sequestered in Orlando for the duration of the playoffs, and some have voiced a sense of helplessness of not being able to do more to help others and the Black Lives Matter movement while in the playoff bubble.
The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors had been discussing a walkout of their Round 2 matchup on Thursday, but the Bucks, who usually play their home games just 40 minutes from Kenosha, opted to advance the discussion with their strike today.
The game was set to air on NBA TV at 4:10 p.m. ET/1:10 p.m. PT, but the Bucks never left the locker room. The broadcast then pivoted to discussion about social justice issues, with broadcaster and former NBA player Jim Jackson eloquently voicing the troubles Black people face today. He's not alone. Several post-game interviews with players and coaches have emotionally discussed police violence against Blacks. Tuesday night after the Clippers' victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke about the shooting, the difficulty players have been having in the bubble, and how the message has not been heard. It's a must-hear.
Two more NBA playoff games are scheduled to be played Wednesday, but at least one — between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder — will also not be played under protest, according to NBA TV. The NBA has not announced any plans for rescheduling.