LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — NBA players met again Thursday morning — a day after the Milwaukee Bucks chose not to take the floor for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic — and voted in favor of resuming the playoffs, a source told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Bucks’ decision not to play Wednesday led to the postponement of all three playoff games that day. And Thursday afternoon the NBA announced that it would postpone the three playoff games scheduled to be played later that day: Denver–Utah, Boston–Toronto, and LA Clippers–Dallas.
When games officially will be played hasn’t been determined as players and league officials continue discussions, though the expectation is that Wednesday’s scheduled slate now will be played Saturday, and Thursday’s games will be held Sunday, sources said.
The players’ decision to continue the playoffs came less than 24 hours after the Bucks made a historic decision not to take the AdventHealth Arena court to play Game 5 of their first-round series against the Magic. The teams playing in the games later Wednesday — the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers — followed suit.
Eventually, a long meeting among players and coaches inside the NBA bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort was held Wednesday night, and then the players met again Thursday morning, leading to their decision, sources said.
Players and other league officials met again Thursday night, sources said, with part of their discussions focused on formulating an action plan to address racial injustice issues. The league and the players are expected to announce a plan that will include a push for police accountability and voter registration, as well as support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.
Michael Jordan, owner of the Charlotte Hornets and the only Black majority owner in the NBA, has become an important liaison between the owners and players, sources told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
Milwaukee chose not to take the court against the Magic after Sunday’s shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a city about 40 miles south of Milwaukee. The decision also came four years to the day that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first chose to kneel for the national anthem during a preseason game in Green Bay, Wisconsin, against the Packers.
Players were openly frustrated and angry this week over seeing another video of a Black man being shot by police, despite all the time and effort they have spent speaking out against racial injustice and police brutality as part of their decision to return to play. After Monday’s win over Orlando, Bucks guard George Hill spoke bluntly about how he was feeling.
“It’s just sickening,” Hill said when asked about the shooting of Blake. “It’s heartless. It’s a f—ed-up situation. Like I said, you’re supposed to look at the police to protect and serve. Now, it’s looked at harass or shoot. To almost take a guy’s life. Thank God he’s still alive.
“I know the cops are probably upset he’s still alive, because I know they surely tried to kill him. But to almost take a man’s life, especially in front of one’s kids, that wasn’t resisting, in his back at point-blank range, is a heartless and gutless situation. We need some justice for that.”
Blake was shot as he attempted to enter the driver’s side door of his vehicle with three of his children inside. Video of the shooting was distributed on social media.
When asked what the Bucks could do from inside the bubble, Hill didn’t mince words, either.
“We can’t do anything,” he said. “First of all, we shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest. I think coming just here took all the focal points off what the issues are. But we’re here, so it is what it is. We can’t do anything from right here, but I think definitely, when it’s all settled, some things have to be done.
“I think this world has to change. I think our police department has to change. Us as society has to change. And, right now we’re not seeing any of that. Lives are being taken, as we speak, day in and day out, and there’s no consequence or accountability for it, and that’s what has to change.”
It has been nearly two months since teams entered the bubble — and in the case of the Raptors, more than two months because of border issues that prevented them from holding training camp in Toronto — so it has been a tiring experience for all.
For players in the second round of the playoffs and beyond, their family members and friends who have been approved to enter the bubble have begun quarantining, and could join them sometime next week, depending on when teams officially advance and when they are allowed to enter.
Demanding societal change and ending racial injustice has been a major part of the NBA restart. “Black Lives Matter” is painted on the arena courts, players are wearing jerseys with messages urging change, and players and coaches have repeatedly spent time speaking about social causes that matter to them, ranging from voting to education reform to combating racial inequality and police brutality.
There already was unease among some players — including Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, who on Tuesday was the first person to speak publicly about the possibility of not playing. He spoke about the prospect of coming inside the NBA bubble in the first place, fearing that the NBA’s return would divert attention from Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in the months leading up to the league’s restart. That uneasiness turned to anger this week in the wake of the shooting of Blake.
Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot when police officers burst into her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation in March. The warrant was in connection with a suspect who did not live there, and no drugs were found. Players have repeatedly, and vocally, called for the arrest of the officers involved on an almost daily basis since arriving in Florida.
Floyd, who was Black, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee onto Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes. That was captured on a cellphone video.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears contributed to this story.