Since being in the NBA’s “bubble,” athletes in both the WNBA and NBA have been privy to the systematic racism going on around them in the world. While the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are still being protested heavily around the world, another unjust attack occured against a man named Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Though Blake survived, the brutal nature of the police attack sent NBA players into a full blown rage.
On August 26, 2020 players of the Milwakuee Bucks decided with a heavy heart that they would no longer play in protest of Jacob Blake’s unjust shooting. Game 5 of the first round series is a win or go home scenario for some teams, but the league was sent into shockwaves when other teams such as the L.A. Clippers and Lakers, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and The Portland Trailblazers all followed the Bucks and forfeited their game in unity. In the current climate of race wars, a pandemic, and consistent protests, NBA players are being sanctioned in Orlando with strict movement. They may be away from their families, but they are not removed from seeing continuous police brutality of innocent black men and women plastered all over social media.
Trying to play a game in a tough playoff series after being bombarded with violence and injustice is draining. As the protest of Game 5 stood tall, there were other talks of players possibly deciding on boycotting the remainder of the NBA season. But after an all-players’ meeting, the players decided to use their platform to use their voices to show how they felt individually.
An emotional Doc Rivers, head coach of the L.A. Clippers, voiced his opinion on the shooting of Jacob Blake, saying “All you hear is Donald Trump and all of them talking about fear, we’re the ones getting killed. We’re the ones getting shot. It’s amazing why we keep loving this country and they do not love us back.”
It’s very telling that even during a pandemic where a million people have died, America still shows its true colors to black people. An entire race can live being disenfranchised, belittled, and berated systemically, but be cheered for and screamed at from couches and stadium bleachers every weekend. Continuing to be ignored only adds more tireless frustration. Therefore, as J.R. Smith of the Los Angeles Lakers put it, “Oh you don’t hear us? Well now you can’t see us!”