When the Milwaukee Bucks made the decision to boycott their playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, it set off a chain reaction that saw the rest of the NBA slate for the evening as well as three MLB games get called off. The goal: Shift the country’s attention away from sports and toward the string of police shootings that have ignited the Black Lives Matter movement this summer.
On Sunday, police officers stationed in Kenosha, Wisconsin, were recorded shooting 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake seven times in the back while he climbed into a car that had his three children in the backseat. Officers encountered Blake after responding to a domestic disturbance. He survived the incident but is paralyzed and has yet to speak publicly since arriving at the hospital.
NBC Sports Washington studio host Wes Hall spoke on the latest episode of the Wizards Talk podcast about the Bucks’ demonstration. He believes that the issue of systematic racism in the U.S. is one that should take precedence over sports — just like it did Wednesday night.
“This is the inevitable progression of what we knew was going to happen unfortunately, that we knew when we had the hashtag of George Floyd…this won’t be the last one,” Hall said. “The shooting is emblematic of the exact reason of why Black Lives Matter is not only a statement but it’s fact and was absolutely necessary. When I think about the stoppage of play and what it means to the league and to the fans, basically what this comes down to is — it’s bigger than basketball, it’s bigger than sports.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has been at the forefront of national conversation for months. The deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd caused a series of nationwide protests that spread into sports. NBA players have been permitted to wear social messages on their jerseys. A large number of MLB players knelt before and during the national anthem during their Opening Day festivities.
But the shooting of Blake on Sunday reinforced the beliefs of many, including Hall, that there are still conversations that need to be had with those outside the Black community.
“Everyone needs to come and be held accountable for where they stand on this and many other issues, but particularly this one, and what action they will be taking,” Hall said. “Because it’s not enough to be speak from within the Black community to the Black community. We are only 14 percent of the population. The problem is bigger than us. But yet we continue to maintain the lion’s share of the burden of this situation continuing to be maintained in this country.”
Hall closed out his opening statement of the podcast by making a call for action.
“As you’re listening to this podcast right now, I put accountability at every person’s doorstep,” Hall said. “What are you doing today to change this world from what it was to what it should be? How are you helping transition from ideals and platitudes to reality — tangible, quantitative change. That’s what this is about. And so I stand wholeheartedly next to any player, any organization, any person that wants to make sure that the maintenance of human integrity and equality and equity is maintained. I will stand with you and fight vigilantly until the very end for that.”