The sport stands still in the USA. At least for a day. Because there are more important things than baskets, goals or match points. With their boycott, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball players are taking protest in US sports against racism and police violence to a new level.
The moving protest note of the Milwaukee Bucks from the arena catacombs of Orlando hits the troubled USA with full force and sets a historic turning point. On the anniversary of the first anti-racism campaign by NFL professional Colin Kaepernick, athletes across the country are following in an unprecedented manner with clear signals against police violence and racism in their deeply divided country. Triggered by the unprecedented play-off boycott of the basketball players from Milwaukee, teams and players in the NBA, MLB, MLS and WNBA stopped competing on Wednesday (local time). The near future of sports competitions is uncertain, and season breaks are no longer excluded.
The appearance of the Bucks around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo leaves a deep impression. The team from Wisconsin appears almost completely in black in front of the media in order to explain its position with equally powerful words. Previously, the title candidate simply did not show up for his play-off game against Orlando Magic. Words have been spoken enough, it is time for action – that is the message that goes out into the world from the Walt Disney World Resort, of all places.
“We demand justice for Jacob Blake and that the officers involved are held accountable,” said George Hill and Sterling Brown, on behalf of their teammates. They call for “meaningful action to be taken after months of inactivity” to bring police officers to justice and finally to address the issues of “police violence and criminal justice reform”. The latest act of violence by police officers against a black at the weekend hit many players hard again. The home of the Bucks is less than an hour from where Blake was gunned down.
All three games were canceled
After the boycott of the Bucks, the NBA cancels all three play-off games scheduled for Wednesday. The female colleagues from the WNBA also join, in the MLB baseball league and the MLS footballers there are also cancellations. At the Masters 1000 tournament for tennis professionals, which has been moved from Cincinnati to New York, Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka announces that she will not play for her semi-finals on Thursday. Shortly afterward, the organizers cancel all four women’s and men’s semi-finals for Thursday and announce a break in play until Friday. Only the NHL continues its ice hockey playoffs.
There is encouragement for the move of the Bucks from professional athletes from the NBA and the NFL. Former US President Barack Obama writes: “I praise the Bucks players who stand up for what they believe in, coaches like Doc Rivers and the NBA and WNBA for making a statement. It will take all of our institutions to stand up for it to stand up for our values. “
Is it going any further?
As the NBA announced, the encounters should be rescheduled. But whether it will continue at all is a constant subject of heated discussions. In a highly emotional player meeting, the Los Angeles Lakers, led by superstar LeBron James, are said to have spoken out in favor of aborting the play-offs. Local rivals Los Angeles Clippers are also said to be against a continuation of the season. Other teams, on the other hand, want to continue playing. Talks should continue on Thursday. Individual rounds for the players and the owners were scheduled for the morning. Whether the games planned for the day would take place was initially completely open.
Debate about racism and police violence reaches new dimensions
Exactly four years to the day after the then 49ers quarterback Kaepernick kneeled down for the first time during the national anthem in a test match before the NFL season and led the country into an emotional ordeal, the debate about racism and police violence in the USA has reached a new dimension. The reason: The 29-year-old family man Jacob Blake was seriously injured on Sunday by police gunshots in his back. A video shows Blake walking to his car, followed by two police officers with guns drawn. One of the weapons is pointed at his back. When Blake opens the driver’s door and leans into the car, shots are fired. According to the family’s attorney, the car had Blake’s children aged three, five, and eight.
Rivers: “It’s amazing to me”
Our focus cannot, therefore, be on basketball today,” the Bucks continued to say. We meet that standard and demand the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.” The day before, Doc Rivers had already expressed his pain and anger with an emotional comment: “It is amazing to me why we continue to love this country and why this country does not love us back,” said the Los Angeles Clippers coach in response on the video of the shooting at Blake.
Even before the pros moved into the anti-corona bubble in Florida, the anti-racism protests in the country had played a major role. Some basketball players felt that if the pandemic-interrupted season continued, the focus on this very important issue would be lost. After the incidents, sport is ultimately only of secondary importance for many.