The National Basketball Association (NBA) postponed three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted Game 5 of their playoff series against Orlando Magic in protest over racial injustice.
The action by the Wisconsin-based team follows the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the city of Kenosha, also in Wisconsin, on Sunday.
In addition to the Bucks-Magic game, the Houston Rockets versus Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers versus Portland Trail Blazers games were also postponed.
The league said the matches would be rescheduled.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we have 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 protesters,” the Bucks players said in a statement.
“In spite of the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action. So, our focus today (Wednesday) can not be on basketball.”
The players called on the Wisconsin state legislature to reconvene to pass 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.”
Kenosha has been rocked by civil unrest and violence since Sunday, when police shot Blake, 29, in the back at close range in an incident captured on video.
Blake is paralyses and is being treated for his injuries.
A 17-year-old identified as Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with homicide on Wednesday.
This is in connection with gunfire that killed two people and wounded a third during a third night of protests on Tuesday.
The Magic, who trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven first-round series, left the court when it was clear the Bucks were not going to play.
Beyonce’s song “Freedom” rang out in the empty arena in Orlando as the clock counting down to the start of the game ran out.
The Athletic reported that the Bucks players remained in their locker room attempting to reach Wisconsin attorney-general Josh Kaul.
The Bucks ownership said they were not aware ahead of time of what the players were planning but supported them.
“The only way to bring about change is to shine a light on racial injustices that are happening in front of us,” co-owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan said in a statement.
The protests also spilled over to Major League Baseball, with the Brewers and Cincinnati Reds opting not to play their game Wednesday in Milwaukee.
The Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres also agreed to postpone their game, ESPN reported.
The WNBA also cancelled its slate of games for Wednesday.
Players of the reigning champion Washington Mystics wore t-shirts that depicted seven bloody bullet holes in their backs.
Protests against racial injustice and police brutality have been at the forefront since the NBA restarted its COVID-19 hit season.
The restarted season is holding in a bio-secure bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando last month.
The courts have the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on them and many players are wearing jerseys with social justice slogans, but the Bucks’ boycott was the most dramatic move by a team to date.