Following Wednesday’s boycotts of the Milwaukee Bucks-Orlando Magic, Rockets-Thunder and Trail Blazers and Lakers game, NBA players are speaking out. Some are sharing profound messages and others are sharing stories of social injustice.
The boycotted playoff games are meant to send a message in wake of the latest police shooting involving a white police officer and Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Blake is a 29-year-old who was shot several times in the back in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There has been national outrage over the police’s use of force after Blake was walking to his car and shot seven times in the back trying to get in while his three children watched from inside the vehicle.
Wednesday afternoon, the NBA announced each Game 5 series will be rescheduled following the players' decisions to boycott games in response to the continued and unjustified killings of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement.
As NBA players and other professional athletes use social media to speak out on the social unrest, there’s one story that hits close to home.
Former Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless shared a story on Twitter about an incident where he was pulled over in Portland as he was on his way to Moda Center for a playoff game that night.
During my time playing in Portland, one day I get in my car with my little brother and nephew (14 and 13 at the time) excited for them to walk in with me for the first time during a playoff game. We get in the car and make our way towards the highway… before we even make it on, literally right when I’m about to make the turn… sirens.
I’m calm because I know I didn’t do anything wrong.
So [I] tell the boys just stay calm I got it, pull over, grab my license and registration early, turn down my radio and roll down my windows because in my head him seeing the two young boys with me may make him give me the benefit of the doubt (when you look like us you try anything make sure you’re safe)…
Harkless continued to share how the conversation went with the police officer once the officer reached his car as Harkless tried to get an explanation as to why he was pulled over.
“Is this your car?”
“Who’s car is this?!”
“Mine officer… why did you pull me over?”
“License and registration and insurance now.”
“Why did you pull me over tho?”
Harkless, who played for the Trail Blazers from 2015-19, then described the moments after the police officer walked back to the cop car and then came back to Harkless’ window after finding out that he was speaking to a Portland Trail Blazers player.
It was as if Harkless was speaking to a completely different person. This is how Moe described it:
Less than two mins later he comes back… attitude completely shifted.
“Oh hey Moe, I’m sorry to bother you, there’s been some suspicious activity in the neighborhood, and I saw you coming down that hill a little fast, good luck tonight, go get em.”
Reading this story of Maurice Harkless’ time in Portland will most likely tug at your heartstrings, but more than anything, Harkless wanted to make sure to share his story to let people know why NBA players are coming together to boycott playoff games.
Harkless finished his social media post after describing the police incident in Portland by saying:
“See why we can’t 'just play'"
Because even when we do, we’re still looked at as less when we step off that court, we’re still targeted by officers when we step foot off that court. Luckily, I’m a fortunate man who has to deal with less of this in his life, but I feel for my brothers and sister who aren’t as lucky to show an ID and have an officers’ whole viewpoint of you change in an instant. So when players boycott that’s who they’re doing it for, and if you’re not on this side frankly we don't want to hear you. It’s not an issue of race or skin color, it’s right and wrong, and selfishness and empathy.
Enough is enough."
NBA players who are still in the Orlando Bubble as the playoffs are put on pause feel the same way:
Enough is enough.