As the Los Angeles Lakers and other NBA teams continue their playoff games, with some teams already advancing to the second round, players and coaches around the league respond to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down after Kenosha police shot at him seven times after they responded to a “domestic incident” that did not initially involve Blake. The act was caught on camera, as Blake was shot while entering the driver seat of a van that had his kids in the backseat. LeBron James has discussed the traumatic event, while people around the league like Doc Rivers and George Hill have extremely emotional reactions to the event as they realize it could have been them if it wasn’t for their NBA stardom.
Players are reportedly discussing the ways for them to bring awareness to the continued issue of racist police brutality in light of Jacob Blake’s shooting, and are considering the act of boycotting games. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported the following:
The NBA Players Association executive committee is in active discussions with players who are seeking guidance on the logistics of potentially boycotting games, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Game 1 of the upcoming Raptors-Celtics series may be boycotted, as Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated/ESPN reports that players from both teams met Tuesday night to discuss the potential of boycotting. Spears added that the players will meet again tonight. Nick Nurse was asked today about the potential boycott, saying that a boycott is “on the table” but that players are discussing alternatives as well (reported by Marc Stein of The New York Times). Fred Van Vleet of the Raptors had a powerful quote, that could probably serve as what the players are thinking in terms of the impact they think they can make by boycotting games (reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports):
“Would it be nice if, in a perfect world, we all say we’re not playing, and the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks — that’s going to trickle down,” Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said on Tuesday. “If he steps up to the plate and puts pressure on the district attorney’s office, and state’s attorney, and governors, and politicians there to make real change and get some justice. I know it’s not that simple. But, at the end of the day, if we’re gonna sit here and talk about making change, then at some point we’re gonna have to put our nuts on the line and actually put something up to lose, rather than just money or visibility. I’m just over the media aspect of it. It’s sensationalized, we talk about it every day, that’s all we see, but it just feels like a big pacifier to me.”
It remains to be seen if the Lakers have discussed this together, but it is definitely apparent now that the players throughout the bubble are feeling the pain from the shooting of Jacob Blake. Chris Paul, union president, was reported to be a part of the executive committee that has been discussing potential boycotts with players, with it being a surprise if LeBron James isn’t at least slightly involved with these discussions as well given his power throughout the league.
The Lakers play Game 5 tonight against the Trail Blazers, with the potential to move on to the second round if they win. We will see if the team is also reportedly planning to boycott future games as more information is reported.