NBA players haven’t ruled out standing out of playoff games in response to the tragic police shooting of a black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
There’s been a devastated reaction from a host of stars after video showed police shooting Jacob Blake in the back in front of his children.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix said: “Players are visibly shattered the last 48 hours. Many believed coming down to Orlando, using the platform would inspire change. See what happened in Wisconsin — it’s made many wonder if it was worth it.”
Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill described the shooting as “sickening” and said it underscored the seriousness of continuing racial injustice in America.
Hill said he feared the resumption of the NBA season in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida, left players without a way to stay engaged with the issue.
“We can’t do anything (from Orlando),” Hill said. “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
“It’s just sickening. It’s heartless,” Hill added. “To almost take a guy’s life, thank God he’s still alive. I know the cops are probably upset he’s still alive, because I know they surely tried to kill him.”
Toronto guard Fred VanVleet said the Raptors had a team meeting about the shooting on Wednesday. Asked if there was talk of a boycott he said: “There are a lot of things being discussed.”
The Raptors are scheduled to begin their second round series against the Celtics on Friday. Boston guard Marcus Smart said there have been talks about not playing. “It’s in the back of our minds,” he said.
It came after a chorus of NBA players joined in condemning the shooting.
Blake, 29, was hospitalised and was reported to be out of surgery and improving on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James weighed in after the Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in their series.
“It is what we have been talking about,” said James. “It is what we are going to continue to talk about.
“With me having two boys and me being an African American in America and continuing to see what is happening with police brutality against my kind.
“It is very troubling. I am never going to lose track of what is going on in the world, especially here in America. My prayers go to that family.”
LeBron James is scared for his kids. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesSource:AFP
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz also spoke out on Twitter. “THIS IS SICK AND IS A REAL PROBLEM WE DEMAND JUSTICE!” Mitchell wrote. “ITS CRAZY I DONT HAVE ANY WORDS BUT WTF MAN! THIS IS WHY WE DONT FEEL SAFE!!!!” The shooting comes amid worldwide protests against racial injustice that followed the May killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by police in Minneapolis.
The NBA has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement during its restart, with social justice messages featuring heavily on the courts and on the uniforms worn by players.
The Bucks, whose home base of Milwaukee is 64km north of Kenosha on the shores of Lake Michigan, issued a statement on the Blake shooting.
“The Bucks organisation is praying for the recovery of Jacob Blake, who was shot multiple times in the back by a police officer at point-blank range in Kenosha, Wisconsin, yesterday,” the Bucks said.
“We stand firmly against reoccurring issues of excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging the Black community.”
— with AFP
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