It isn’t always easy to take a stand.
As pressure continues to build over racial injustice following the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake at the hands of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks took the biggest stand of anyone yet, boycotting their Game 5 matchup with the Orlando Magic. While the Magic took the court to warm up, the Bucks stayed in their locker room, and as the time slowly trickled off the clock leading up to the 4:10 p.m. scheduled tip-off, it was clear the Bucks weren’t going to take the floor.
Throughout the previous days, players and coaches alike have talked about and begged for change after an unarmed Blake had seven bullets put in his back. Players talked about boycotting games; some even talked about just returning home because it felt wrong to be playing given the current climate across the United States.
The sentiment has been the same over the past few months that players and coaches are tired of the continued injustices against African Americans. From taking a knee during the national anthem, to allowing players to have social justice statements on the back of their jerseys, the NBA has showed their intent to push for radical changes.
Yet, the need for a seismic event and shift was still needed. Something big had to happen for the changes that so many have yearned for, protested about, and spoke ad nauseam about to finally happen.
On Wednesday afternoon, that event finally happened, as the Bucks never took the court for their game against the Magic. Players never left the locker room, leaving team and league officials pacing outside before a decision was ultimately made that they would not be playing.
The Bucks put their foot down and said that the game of basketball didn’t matter. Dribbling a ball up-and-down a 94 foot court meant nothing, and that pushing forward and finding an avenue to finally stop the senseless slayings of their fellow African American’s is all that mattered.
It’s likely to be a monumental moment not only in the NBA, but sports as a whole. It takes people who have voices that mean something to many, and that hold power to make big, radical changes, and the NBA and it’s players are trying to do that.
Wednesday was just the next step.
Milwaukee did the only thing that they could’ve done. The Magic, who guard Michael Carter-Williams said didn’t have any advanced notice of what the Bucks were planning to do, did the only thing they could’ve done, packing everything up and returning to their hotels. Oklahoma City, Houston, Portland and the Los Angeles Lakers did the only thing they could’ve done in striking and boycotting their games for later in the day.
All it took was one domino to fall to make them all begin to fall.
The Milwaukee Bucks made all the right decisions, and put their money where their mouths are. They’re pushing for change in the fight for racial equality in a way no one else has.
What’s to come following the players decisions to not play on Wednesday is unclear. The possibility that there’s no more basketball being played this year is real, all thanks to one team taking the stand no one else had fully taken.
Thank you Milwaukee for doing the right thing. Thank you for putting your foot down and pushing for change, and for demanding something is done.
Black Lives Matter. Jacob Blake matters. Justice for Breonna Taylor matters. George Floyd matters.
Taking a stand isn’t easy, but the Bucks and the NBA made it look easy on Wednesday.