by Justin Lyons
Playing their home games just 40 miles from Kenosha, Wisconsin, it’s safe to say that the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police literally hit close to home for the Bucks players.
The Orlando Magic originally took the court for their game, but they decided to leave when it appeared the Bucks weren’t coming. That court was now empty aside from the NBA logos, the regulation markings and “Black Lives Matter” in bold text across the side closest to the scorer’s table.
It was the spark that started the fire, as basketball wouldn’t be played again until Aug. 29.
Bucks guard George Hill was one of the most outspoken players on the team regarding the shooting of Jacob Blake, making it very clear that he couldn’t continue to play basketball to distract from the reality of what’s happening in the United States.
The Brewers, the Milwaukee baseball team that plays its home games just a short drive from where the Bucks play, also decided to cancel their Aug. 26 game against the Reds.
Brewers star Christian Yelich said it was a unanimous decision from the team to not play.
“I think the Bucks spearheaded it for us,” Yelich said. “They started the discussion. It gave us a conversation to have. It was eye-opening for us, and we felt like it was the right thing to do.”
The NHL also joined in the protests, postponing games Aug. 27 and Aug. 28.
Later on the night of Aug. 26, Shams Charania reported via Twitter that the Lakers and Clippers, both of which are still contenders for the title, voted to boycott the rest of the season. LeBron James reportedly led the movement to cancel the season, which is no surprise given his history of fighting for social justice.
Giannis Antetokounmpo said the Bucks were able to get in contact with Blake’s father very quickly. Blake’s father was moved to tears by the gesture.
According to an article from ESPN, Antetokounmpo said, “Obviously, it’s gonna be games that you come in and score 30, 35, 50 or whatever the case might be, but that you’re going to remember. The way we felt, we’re going to remember the way we felt for the rest of our lives.”
The Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs Tuesday, which begs the question of how they will respond. Hill expressed disappointment that he had to be in the Orlando bubble instead of fighting for justice, so it should be interesting to see where the Bucks go from here.
Eyes are also shifting to the NFL, which starts Thursday. The entire nation will have its eyes on protests and social justice initiatives from a league that has been just as outspoken as the NBA.