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N.B.A. Players Will Return to Playoffs After Walkout





The N.B.A.’s players have pledged to resume the season after the Milwaukee Bucks refused to compete in a playoff game on Wednesday as a protest against racism and police brutality, triggering a momentous, unauthorized work stoppage across professional basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer.

The plans were confirmed by three people who were part of the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because talks were still continuing about several details, including when to return to play.

Mike Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman, announced Thursday that its three playoff games that evening would “not be played as scheduled,” but that the league was hopeful play would resume on Friday or Saturday. Milwaukee’s walkout had prompted the postponement of two other playoff games on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear how the playoffs schedule would change to accommodate the missed games.

N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. players have long spoken and demonstrated about social justice. But on Wednesday, the Bucks were reacting to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot in the back multiple times by the police in Kenosha, Wis. The shooting was captured on video, which the players, in a statement, described as “horrendous.”

“Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” the statement said. “When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable.

“We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”


The Bucks swiftly received support from players across the league, including those on other teams that had been scheduled to play on Wednesday, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“We demand change,” the Lakers superstar LeBron James posted on Twitter, using all caps. “Sick of it.”

While the Bucks’ protest was taking hold in the N.B.A., players in other leagues were making plans to mirror the action in their sports. Players in the W.N.B.A., who have been at the forefront of social protest in sports for years, also chose to not play. The Washington Mystics arrived at the arena for a game against the Atlanta Dream wearing T-shirts that spelled out Jacob Blake’s name before ultimately deciding to sit out. Their T-shirts also had markings on the back to represent bullet holes.

On Thursday, the W.N.B.A. announced that three games scheduled for the day had been postponed as players “continue discussions and reflection on recent events.” Three games on Wednesday were postponed because of the Mystics walkout.

Several players in professional baseball and soccer also chose not to play on Wednesday, and the tennis star Naomi Osaka said she would not compete in a semifinal at a tournament scheduled for Thursday that was later postponed.

“As a Black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis,” she said in a post on social media. She said Thursday that she would play when the tournament resumed on Friday.

Sopan Deb and Shauntel Lowe contributed reporting.

This is a developing story and will be updated.


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