Surreality set in as the clock dripped towards tip time for the Game 5 of the first-round playoff series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. As close as four minutes until game time, per ESPN's Malika Andrews, only Magic players had taken the floor for warmups.
Soon after, they retreated to their locker room. It's now been reported by multiple outlets that the Bucks decided to boycott Game 5 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, in Kenosha, Wis. on Sunday. Kenosha, where mass protests have broken out in response to the shooting, is roughly 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Additionally, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that Bucks players are attempting to contact Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul. The officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced an investigation into the shooting, which was widely shared across social media platforms in a video taken by a bystander.
The boycott is a powerful and historic statement toward justice for Blake — who, after being shot several times in the back, is reported to be alive and in stable condition, but paralyzed from the waist down — and also against systemic racism and the disparate treatment of Black people by police in the United States. A resounding call for change that transcends gestures made by players in the bubble thus far.
Alex Lasry, senior vice president of the Bucks, and son of Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry:
George Hill of the Bucks:
Sam Mitchell of NBA TV:
Two more games were on the NBA schedule for Wednesday evening: Trail Blazers-Lakers and Thunder-Rockets. The league has announced that all three games, including Bucks-Magic, on the docket will be postponed for a later date. Charania had previously reported the Trail Blazers, Lakers, Thunder and Rockets' intent to boycott.
On the status of games in the bubble moving forward, there's not yet comprehensive word. Fred VanVleet of the Raptors spoke Tuesday on the possibility of a boycott, and conversations between Toronto and their second-round opponent Boston Celtics were reported to be ongoing by Haynes early Wednesday.
Updates to follow. Wherever this story turns from here, it's history we're witnessing.
UPDATE (4:56 p.m. CT): ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported an unnamed player believes "the season is in jeopardy" entering tonight's meeting to discuss plans moving forward, and the possibility of further postponements.
(5:45 p.m. CT): The Bucks released the following statement:
(6:25 p.m. CT): And Bucks players read the following statement to assorted media on the Disney campus:
(7:16 p.m.): NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts and the coaches association stand with the players:
(7:25 p.m. CT): Wojnarowski reported that the NBA Board of Governors (owners) will meet Thursday morning