Wednesday was supposed to be an exciting day for NBA basketball. The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder were going to break the deadlock in their series, which is currently tied at 2-2, and the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers were expected to close out their own respective matchups against the Orlando Magic and Portland Trail Blazers.
Those games never took place because the players from those teams decided to enact a wildcat strike, opting not to play on Wednesday as a way to protest racial inequality in the United States, particularly as is pertains to police brutality. Black Americans are killed at a rate that’s twice as high as white Americans despite accounting for less than 13 percent of the population, according to The Washington Post’s police shootings database.
It’s important to reiterate that it was the players’ decision to boycott the games as opposed to the NBA’s. That distinction was important to LeBron James, who used his Instagram story to clear up any confusion about what happened on Wednesday.
LeBron on IG right now making sure the message isn't forgotten. pic.twitter.com/lxFBC1QIH6— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) August 26, 2020
James’ Instagram post was inspired by the released that the NBA sent out on Wednesday afternoon, which stated that the games were “postponed.” While it’s possible that the NBA will finish its season in Orlando sooner rather than later, basketball isn’t at the forefront of the Lakers’ minds right now. Instead, they’re focusing their efforts to demand justice for Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
More from Lakers players and coaches pic.twitter.com/G3sQMwYtXY— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) August 26, 2020
The Lakers also released a statement supporting their players for boycotting on Wednesday:
We stand with our players and the players of the NBA in their demand for justice and the end of racial violence.
Eighty percent of NBA players are Black men. We cannot love them for the joy and entertainment that they bring to the world, yet sit in silence and fail to use our platforms and resources to amplify their voices when they demand the justice and equality that America has promised us all, but denied Black people for too long.
In 2020 alone, we have been made to bear witness to the killings of numerous unarmed Black men and women at the hands of the police, as well as private “vigilantes.” Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Jacob Blake.
We must continue to say their names. But now is also the time for us to say enough.
The NBA has scheduled a special Board of Governors meeting for Thursday morning, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. That meeting, in conjunction with the players meeting on Wednesday, will tell us more about the future of the 2019-20 season.
The Lakers obviously would like to bring Los Angeles its first NBA championship since 2010, but not before they feel confident that they can bring forth tangible change to a pressing issue. We’ll see if they can be swayed that doing so in the bubble is possible.