Thursday’s slate of NBA games is unlikely to be played amid a player-led boycott in protest of anti-Black racism prompted by the weekend shooting of Jacob Blake by police in Kenosha, Wis., according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
That means the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics’ second-round playoff opener, at 6:30 p.m. ET, as well as Game 6 of both the Denver Nuggets-Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers-Dallas Mavericks first-round series — at 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., respectively — hang in the balance.
The news comes in the wake of the boycott kickstarted by the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday afternoon just before they were about to tip off against the Orlando Magic in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
This led the NBA to eventually postpone Wednesday’s schedule that included Game 5 of both the Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets series and the Portland Trail Blazers-Los Angeles Lakers opening-round tilt.
The protest staged by the Bucks was in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot at least seven times from behind in Kenosha, Wis., last Sunday that, according to Blake’s lawyer, has left him paralyzed.
In the lead-up to Milwaukee’s action Wednesday, the Raptors and Celtics floated the idea of potentially boycotting the start of their playoff series in an effort to show demonstrable action behind the message them and the rest of the NBA has attempted to get out during this restart in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against police brutality.
“It’s ongoing discussions. I think it is on the table,” said Raptors coach Nick Nurse in a practice availability just a few hours before the Bucks opted to not take the floor. “There are some other ideas that are on the table as well.”
It’s been reported that a special Board of Governors meeting will be held Thursday morning to further discuss the situation and, perhaps, make a decision whether to continue the NBA season or not. But, in the meantime, a league-wide players and coaches meeting was reportedly held Wednesday where, according to Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, unless team ownership gets involved to help further causes such as police reform, the season will end without a champion being crowned.
In the meeting, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers voted to end the rest of the season, with every team but them favouring to continue the season, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported that LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard both spoke up during the meeting and were adamant about not playing the rest of the playoffs
As Wojnarowski reported, however, the vote was more of an informal poll and not definitive.
Thursday’s Board of Governors meeting could very well determine the fate of this season.