The Milwaukee Bucks’ decision to sit out Game 5 of the first round of the NBA playoffs Wednesday in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin was met with widespread and immediate support from players and teams across the NBA.
Current and retired players tweeted in solidarity with the Bucks and voiced their anger over Blake’s shooting, demanding change to the policing system that disproportionately targets Black people.
Many also called the police violence against Black people an issue that is “bigger than basketball.”
Several NBA players, including Bucks guard George Hill, have been vocal about their outrage over the incident in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where police shot Blake seven times in the back as he tried to get in the car with his children inside. Blake’s family has said he is now paralyzed from the waist down.
Hill called the shooting a “fucked-up situation” and said he regretted going to Florida to play the season amid national protests over the shooting.
“We shouldn’t have even came to this damn place, to be honest,” he said Monday. “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are.”
After news of the Bucks’ decision broke Wednesday, Alex Lasry, the team’s senior vice president, tweeted his support, echoing many of the players’ sentiments.
Bucks owners Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, and Jamie Dinan later issued a statement saying that though they did not know about the decision beforehand, they “wholeheartedly agreed” with the players and backed them.
Former NBA player Kenny Smith, who is now a sports commentator for Inside the NBA on TNT, also made waves for his public show of support for the players on the show.
“As Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight,” he said before disconnecting his mic and walking off the panel.
A number of teams and their executives also tweeted their support for protests against Blake’s shooting and racial injustice.
The Bucks’ decision set off reports that several other teams were also planning to sit out upcoming games.
The NBA later announced that the league would postpone all three games scheduled for Wednesday.