Bucks players deliver statement after boycotting Game 5 vs. Magic: ‘We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake’
More than three hours after the Bucks were scheduled to start Game 5 of their first-round series against the Magic, Milwaukee players delivered a message demanding action and accountability following the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wis.
Bucks guards Sterling Brown and George Hill read a team statement to media members outside the team’s locker room Wednesday night that called for the Wisconsin State Legislature to “take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform.” (Players did not answer questions from reporters.)
The Bucks’ statement, in full:
“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.
“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.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable. For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
Milwaukee was scheduled to play Orlando at 4 p.m. ET, but Bucks players never took the floor for pregame warmups. While inside the locker room, players were attempting to reach Josh Kaul, the attorney general of Wisconsin, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced the postponement of three playoff games (Magic vs. Bucks, Thunder vs. Rockets and Trail Blazers vs. Lakers) scheduled to be played Wednesday shortly after the Bucks decided to boycott Game 5. NBA players will hold a meeting Wednesday night to discuss their next steps following the boycott, per multiple reports.
The Bucks’ three principal team owners — Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan — released a joint statement Wednesday night saying they “fully support” the players’ decision.
“Although we did not know beforehand, we would have wholeheartedly agreed with them,” they wrote. “The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on the racial injustices that are happening in front of us. Our players have done that and we will continue to stand alongside them and demand accountability and change.”
While there has been speculation about the season being “in jeopardy,” there is a “sizable amount” of players who want to complete the 2019-20 campaign, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
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