Los Angeles's two professional basketball teams on Wednesday voted to boycott the remainder of the season in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake and deaths of other Black Americans.
Multiple news outlets reported that the decision was made during a meeting of the remaining playoff teams. The league resumed play in August after being delayed for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Lakers forward LeBron James and Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard were instrumental in urging their respective teams to vote to end the current season. The unprecedented move comes amid a wave of protests against police brutality and racism sweeping the country, which gained renewed strength last weekend following the police shooting of Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
James reportedly led the two teams out of the room as other teams seemed to signal they wanted to continue playing, according to CBS Sports. David Aldridge, a reporter for The Athletic, said that he was told that the meeting "ended ugly."
The meeting came as the league saw all of its games postponed on Wednesday after the Milwaukee Bucks decided not to take the floor for their contest against the Orlando Magic. The boycott spread to Major League Baseball, where four games were postponed due to a players' boycott, as well as Major League Soccer, which saw five of the six games scheduled for Wednesday postponed.
“We are calling for justice for Jacob Blake and demand the officers be held accountable," the Bucks said in their statement on the boycott. "For this to occur, it is imperative for the Wisconsin State Legislature to reconvene after months of inaction and take up meaningful measures to address issues of police accountability, brutality and criminal justice reform. We encourage all citizens to educate themselves, take peaceful and responsible action, and remember to vote on Nov. 3.”
The move was the first boycott held by NBA players since 1961, when some members of the Boston Celtics sat out a game to protest racial injustice.
NBA Players' Association President Michele Roberts released a statement supporting the move and calling video of Blake's shooting "horrific." The NBA's commissioner, Adam Silver, has yet to comment publicly on the boycott.
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