March 2, 2021

Bucks boycott playoff game after Blake shooting

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The Milwaukee Bucks have boycotted Game 5 of their NBA playoff series against the Orlando Magic in protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

Blake, a black man who was shot seven times in the back by police on Sunday, is recovering in hospital and is conscious, his family has said.

But he is paralysed from the waist down and his lawyers said it will take “a miracle” for him to walk again.

The Bucks, who are the top seed in the Eastern Conference and hold a 3-1 lead over the Magic, took to the court for pre-game warm-ups but then remained in the locker room when they were due to return.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed the Bucks, who are based in the state of Wisconsin, had decided to boycott the game.

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo warmed up on court ahead of Game 5
Image: Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo warmed up on court ahead of Game 5

Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry also appeared to confirm the boycott with a social media post.

“Some things are bigger than basketball,” Lasry wrote on Twitter. “The stand taken today by the players and org shows that we’re fed up. Enough is enough. Change needs to happen.

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“I’m incredibly proud of our guys and we stand 100 per cent behind our players ready to assist and bring about real change.”

NBA players have been protesting since the season resumed in an Orlando bubble, in solidarity with worldwide action taken following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

Players have worn Black Lives Matters shirts during warm-ups, knelt during the national anthem played before games, and worn social justice messages on the back of their jerseys during matches.

The Bucks game with the Magic had been scheduled to tip off at 4pm local time (9pm BST) in Orlando.

Two more games are scheduled for Thursday, with the Oklahoma Thunder and Houston Rockets set to play at 6:30pm ET (11:30 BST) with their series tied at 2-2, while the Los Angeles Lakers hold a 3-1 lead over the Portland Trail Blazers going into their Game 5 at 9pm ET (02:30am BST).

Several NBA players, including the Lakers’ LeBron James, took to social media in apparent support of the Bucks’ decision to boycott the game.

James wrote on Twitter: “WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT.”

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who have been duelling in a playoff series in the bubble, both backed the Bucks.