Professional basketball, baseball and soccer games came to an unprecedented halt Wednesday, after Milwaukee Bucks players refused to take the court for a playoff game against the Orlando Magic to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The NBA then canceled all three of Wednesday’s playoff games. On TNT, former basketball star and commentator Kenny Smith walked off the set of “Inside the NBA” in solidarity with protesters.
Kenny Smith: “As a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight, and figure out what happens after that. I just don’t feel equipped to do that.”
Ernie Johnson Jr.: “And I respect that.”
The WNBA also canceled three games Wednesday, after members of the Washington Mystics arrived wearing T-shirts, each with seven bullet holes in the back, with the fronts of the shirts spelling out the name Jacob Blake. This is Mystics guard Ariel Atkins.
Ariel Atkins: “This isn’t just about basketball. We aren’t just basketball players. And just because we are basketball players doesn’t mean that’s our only platform. We need to understand that when most of us go home, we still are Black.”
Three Major League Baseball games and most of Wednesday’s Major League Soccer games were postponed, as well, following player protests, and the Western & Southern Open tennis tournament also suspended matches after superstar Naomi Osaka — whose father is Haitian — withdrew to protest against racial injustice.